First-hand accounts requested for fibroid tumors
November 19, 2004 3:52 AM   Subscribe

Fibroid tumours. I just went for a kidney scan, and while I was there the doctor told me he saw I have a fibroid tumour and need to have it checked out by a gynecologist. I have an appointment for a week from today, but in the meantime, if any of the ladies of metafilter have experience with this kind of tumour, it would be really comforting to me to get some first-hand accounts. (more inside)

This diagnosis explains a lot of symptoms I had been having - such as bloating, abdominal cramping throughout the month, heavy periods, and frequent urination. What is likely to happen next?
posted by hazyjane to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I developed some large fibroids in my 40s, though it sounds like they didn't cause me as much physical distress as you're having--they were more of a nuisance. There are a variety of interventions, ranging from drastic (hysterectomy) to a relatively new non-surgical approach that involves cutting off the bloodflow to the tumors (great for younger women who still want to have children).

In my own case, I decided to just leave 'em alone--since fibroids are fed by estrogen, they tend to shrink away with menopause, unless you're on hormone replacement.

Medline has quite a few good links with more info. Bottom line, they're not dangerous, just a pain, and if you don't want surgery, you have other options (including just waiting them out).
posted by Kat Allison at 4:36 AM on November 19, 2004

Oh, I should add, one entertaining part of the whole thing is getting an ultrasound, which they might do to assess size/location of the fibroids. You recline, in the stirrups, they stick some sort of imaging wand up your hoo-hah, and then smear gloppy gel all over your belly and rub another imaging device (which looks rather like a vacuum-cleaner attachment) around in the gel, and then a bunch of doctors stand and gaze in fascination at a screen that has these grey blobby moving images on it, completely ignoring you lying there in a most embarrassing posture with glop smeared all over your abdomen.

The really fun part is you have to have this done with a completely full bladder, so the pressure of the vacuum-cleaner attachment thing right over it makes for some moments of heroism in bladder control. (As if I wasn't already about to pee myself laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole situation.)
posted by Kat Allison at 4:47 AM on November 19, 2004

Condoleeza Rice is having surgery today to deal with her uterine fibroids.
posted by onhazier at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2004

OK, I can't give you personal experience because I don't have a uterus and never did but a relative had
UFE which is a non-surgical procedure (it uses ultrasound to get rid of the fibroids). Ask your doctor about it as a alternative treatment. Good luck.
posted by TimeFactor at 6:09 AM on November 19, 2004

This is actually Mrs. Dickman *sigh* responding. I was diagnosed with a fibroid tumor about a year ago, after two years of very painful and heavy cycles and trips to the ER for pain relief. I got the run around for a long time, and finally found a supportive GYN. She suggested the traditional methods, surgery of a few different types, all of which I declined. Although I can totally understand why many women decide to just have them removed I felt that removing the symptoms wasn't fixing the problem and that's what I really wanted to do.

I chose to do some alternative therapies. As Kat mentioned above fibroids grow because of high estrogen levels and there are a whole stack of reasons that you could have higher levels, one of which is body fat because estrogen is stored there. One thing I did to counteract my high levels was to use a natural progesterone cream topically. I did a whole list of other herbal tinctures as well, the primary help being chasteberry or sometimes called vitex. I also began taking an Evening Primrose Oil supplement it's good to balance hormones. I read a terrific book by Rosemary Gladstar that gave lots of good options for doing a little or a lot.

The real fix for me though, was to see an acupuncturist. After three visits with her my symptoms completely subsided.
The herbal supplements take a while to work, but I did see a difference and am continuing them. I am still symptom free.

My heart goes out to you, it is not fun. Hope these ideas help you along the way to choosing what way is right for you. Good Luck.
posted by putzface_dickman at 6:55 AM on November 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Last December, I had the same problem. The surgeon told me my options were a hysterectomy or a relatively minor surgical procedure called (I think) "Myoectomy." Since this was my first experience with fibroids, I thought a hysterectomy was a bit drastic (leaving aside the fact that it's major surgery), so I opted for the out patient surgery. I showed up at o'dark thirty so I could be ready when the doctor was (docs don't wait, patients wait), but I was home, a bit woozy, by 1 in the afternoon. Part of the procedure is to look to see if a hysterectomy needs to be done, but for me, nothing else was required: it was just a basic "put her to sleep, look, cut out fibroid and turn off anesthetic". The releases I had to sign gave ME the willies (and I'm a lawyer), but it was all very simple and I was running up and down stairs the next day.
posted by redfisch at 7:05 AM on November 19, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks a lot, everybody - I really appreciate the support. I feel a lot less scared now!
posted by hazyjane at 8:06 AM on November 19, 2004

I have to agree with Mrs. Dickman. Acu all the way, sister! My acupuncturist was once an advertising professional but when her Western doctor wanted to give her a full hysterectomy because her fibroid tumors were so bad, she got needled and went the TCM route first. Three months later she quit her job and went to Acu school because her tumors were gone after six sessions and she wanted to be a part of something that helpful. Her kids are sure glad she's an acupuncturist, since they wouldn't be around had she listened to her Western MD.

Be sure to ask them how much experience they've had with women's reproductive issues, though, and go to someone who's been a practicing acupuncturist for at least ten years. They can't hurt you but it takes a lot of practice to get really good in this field.
posted by pomegranate at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2004

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