Articles about Fibroids and Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Spanish philosopher George Santayana is credited with the popular phrase “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Hippocrates first coined the term “hysteria” and attributed its cause to the abnormal movements of the uterus in a woman’s body.

Hysteria then became the first mental disorder attributed to women (and only women). It was a catch-all diagnosis for symptoms including but by no means limited to: nervousness, emotional outbursts, tendency to cause trouble, and various sexual urges.

By 1600s, this “disease” is rampant throughout Europe and eventually makes it way to the United States.

  1. The treatment for this disease? A doctor massaging a woman’s genitals to get her to orgasm.
  2. If recalcitrant to this treatment, she was forced to a mental asylum or when anesthesia became available in mid 1800s: hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Was  the “Cure” for All Female Complaints

Hysterectomy became the “cure” for all female complaints; a Victorian sexual lobotomy.

Surely, doctors in the late 20th century would have jettisoned these old-fashioned misogynist ideas, right? Nope!

Surgical texts from the 1960s & 70s: “Hysterectomy renders a woman more tractable, orderly, industrious, and cleanly.

One of the most prestigious medical journals “The Lancet” stated in 1987: “…hysterectomy is attractive. Not only is there relief of symptoms, there are other benefits: greater reliability at work, availability at all time for sexual intercourse, savings on sanitary protection, and freedom from unwanted pregnancy.

The prevailing medical wisdom holds that the uterus is a disposable organ that serves no useful purpose once a
woman has all the children she wants….something of a nuisance.”

The uterus-free woman is depicted as a care-free individual released from the drudgery of uncomfortable and debilitating female problems.

But Things Are Better in the 21st Century, Right? Think Again…

Hysterectomy is still the second most commonly performed surgery in the US, yet ½ of its population (men) aren’t even eligible for this surgery.

The American Medical Association did a study and found that over half of the 700,000 annual US hysterectomies were unnecessary.

According to Gynecologist Dr. Stanley West, author of the book “Hysterectomy Hoax” “more than 90 percent of hysterectomies are unnecessary. Worse still, the surgery can have long-lasting physical, emotional, and sexual consequences that may seriously undermine a woman’s health and well-being. There are alternatives in at least 90 percent of cases and that less than 10 percent of the operations are in fact medically necessary.”

The average age of a woman undergoing hysterectomy is <40 and we have seen countless women who have already lost their uterus <30 years of age from fibroids.

The most common reason why caucasian women undergo hysterectomy is uterine cancer which is appropriate, but the most common reason women of color undergo hysterectomy is benign fibroids.

As the only organ unique to women, one might say that it is the defining characteristic of a woman.

The Real Consequences of a Hysterectomy and Partial Hysterectomy

What are the physical, mental, and spiritual consequences of having and losing a uterus? What is the meaning of the departure of millions of uteri from this planet, in most instances many years before the departure of their owners?

The incidence of post-hysterectomy depression appears to be widespread. A breast surgeon and respected women’s health expert Dr. Susan Love states that some 30 to 50 percent of women suffer from depression while some other researchers estimate the number to be as much as 70 percent. For some, it is minor and short-lived while for others it becomes a chronic state. Other psychological disturbances include mood change, anxiety, and irritability. While there is, no doubt, that feelings of grief can be brought on from a woman’s sense of loss of her womb and the accompanying mourning process, there are also biochemical reasons for this depression. The hormonal disruptions brought on by the surgery can be far reaching, affecting the nerve and hormone (neuroendocrine) interactions responsible for a sense of emotional wellbeing.

#DontLoseUrU: Save “U” in More Ways Than One

The #DontLoseUrU campaign was created to end this long history of unnecessary hysterectomies in this country. Be it resolved that our mission at the Atlanta Fibroid Center is to educate all women, but particularly women of color, that hysterectomy for fibroids is completely unnecessary, and that there are other non-surgical options like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE also known as UAE) that will give them the relief of symptoms, completely avoid the risks and long recovery of a surgery, and allow them to keep their uterus.

If you are not sure whether or not you qualify for a UFE, or even if you’ve been told by your doctor that you don’t qualify, ask for a second opinion. Call Atlanta Fibroid Center at 770-953-2600 or make an appointment online.



Uterine fibroid embolization or UFE is one of the biggest medical breakthroughs for women suffering with uterine fibroids. Dr. Lipman and the Atlanta Fibroid Center has one of the world’s largest experience in this amazing procedure . He was the first to perform UFE in Georgia and has treated over 7,000 women over the past 23 years.

Despite the very long track record of safety and efficacy of the UFE procedure, most women suffering with fibroids and seeking help from their Ob/Gyn will not hear about this amazing procedure.

Therefore, the first myth that you may hear from your doctor is “Your only option to treat your fibroids is surgery” (either hysterectomy if you’re not interested in fertility, or myomectomy if you are).

Video: 4 UFE Myths You May Hear from Your Doctor


Why would your doctor not tell you about UFE if they know about this non-surgical option? Quite simply many Ob/Gyns would rather attempt to treat the patient with surgery as they are trained surgeons. But a survey of nearly 1,000 women in the U.S. published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Journal of Women’s Health in 2013 revealed that the average time for women suffering with fibroids to seek treatment was over 3 ½ years; with 1/3 of them waiting for 5 years (1).

When they asked the women why they waited to be treated, the majority of them said they did not want surgery. They wanted a non-surgical option, and UFE was not typically mentioned to these women.

The fact that most women suffering with fibroids did not want surgery was surprising to the gynecologists that reported on this data. But not to Dr. Lipman. He sees many women every day in his office at the Atlanta Fibroid Center that are not interested in surgery. They are specifically looking for cutting edge procedures that are safer than surgery, less invasive, have a much quicker recovery, and allow them to keep their uterus.

UFE is a completely non-surgical outpatient option, which treats every fibroid in the uterus and just the kind of procedure these women are looking for. Unfortunately, most women aren’t told about the UFE option.

Myth 1: What [Really] Happens After a Partial Hysterectomy

The second myth is that a partial hysterectomy only removes a part of the uterus. A partial hysterectomy removes the entire uterus and leaves the ovaries behind, whereas a complete hysterectomy removes the uterus AND the woman’s ovaries. The theoretical advantage of a partial vs. a complete hysterectomy is that patients undergoing a partial hysterectomy wouldn’t go in to menopause immediately after the surgery.

However, 1/3 of patients that underwent partial hysterectomy did go into menopause immediately, and another 1/3 of patients went in to menopause early. Removing any part of the uterus for benign fibroids is completely unnecessary and often results in significant psychological (like a man being castrated) and sexual side effects. It also causes significant bone loss and frequent urinary issues (ex. leaking or incontinence); not to mention the 25% surgical complication rate.

Myth 2: You Can’t Have Children after UFE

Dr. Lipman has seen numerous children born after UFE, including three sets of twins. Births after UFE are typically full term and vaginal.

Fibroids and Pregnancy: Miracle Baby

Photo: Doris Combs’ letter to Dr. Lipman nearly 18 years after her UFE procedure at Atlanta Fibroid Center. Read the full story of Doris Combs and her miracle baby.

The surgical alternative is called a myomectomy. This surgical procedure attempts to surgically remove the biggest fibroids from the uterus and then sew the uterus back together. There are a number of issues with the surgical myomectomy. The first is that there are often way more fibroids in the uterus than the surgeon can remove. This means that there are often many fibroids left behind after surgery that will grow, and within 3-5 years the patient will need a second procedure (either the second myomectomy, hysterectomy, or UFE). Dr. Lipman has seen numerous women with more than 2 myomectomies; some with as many as 5 (and they’re seeing him to learn about UFE as a 6th procedure)!

There is never a reason to do more than 1 myomectomy, but if you are unaware of UFE and don’t want hysterectomy, you will likely end up with a myomectomy. A myomectomy has significant effects on a woman’s fertility and there is very little fertility left after 2 myomectomies.

If a woman undergoes a myomectomy and then becomes pregnant, she is obligated to undergo a C-section. This is in contrast to UFE, where the births are typically full-term and vaginal. Therefore, with myomectomy, you will likely end up with multiple surgeries (myomectomy plus a c-section) and still need another procedure in 3-5 years to treat the recurrent symptoms from the fibroids that were left behind at the original surgery (myomectomy). Again, contrast that with UFE and vaginal birth with no surgeries.

Myth 3: You Are NOT Qualified for UFE

The fourth myth is that a woman with symptomatic fibroids wouldn’t qualify for UFE because of the size of her uterus or the number of fibroids that she has. This is completely false. It does not matter how big or how numerous the fibroids are. No matter what your doctor tells you about qualifying for UFE, if you’re a candidate for hysterectomy, you’ll be a candidate for UFE.

Myth 4: You Will Eventually Need a Hysterectomy Anyway

Myth number five is that if you have UFE, you will need a hysterectomy someday anyway. The vast majority of UFE patients find the relief they are looking for and are symptom-free forever; particularly if they are over 40 years of age at the time of the UFE. Younger patients have a longer time horizon until menopause and may grow new fibroids but this is not typical.

The Biggest Myth of Them All: You Don’t Need Your Uterus

If you are not interested in having children at any point in the future, your doctor may imply that you don’t need your uterus anyway. After all, its key function is to bear children, and therefore, if you are not going to have kids, it’s better to “just be done with it for good”. In those cases, your doctor may suggest a partial or a full hysterectomy as an option.

While there are many good reasons for a woman to consider and have a hysterectomy, uterine fibroids are not one of them. We say it with confidence because the truth is that your uterus has a much bigger purpose and role in your life than bearing kids. In fact, its purpose in your body is so important that we will dedicate a separate post to the subject to cover it in detail, but for now, it’s important to mention that removal of uterus can affect your hormonal balance, sexuality, and even personality and overall physical and mental health.

A hysterectomy, whether partial or full, has a 30% complication rate. Many of these are due to bleeding with transfusion or wound issues, but there can also be significant morbidity from cutting important structures during surgery (exs. bladder, bowel, ureter) or even on rare occasion death.

The UFE procedure is much safer than surgery and allows women the relief of symptoms, spares them from the risks and long recovery of surgery, and allows them to keep their uterus.

Conclusion

Choosing the best way for you to treat fibroids is not an easy task. A lot depends on your individual circumstances and needs. But one thing for sure: you want to have accurate information about your options at your disposal in order to make the right choice.  That’s why it’s important to speak to both, your OB/GYN AND an experienced interventional radiologist like Dr. Lipman, to understand what will work for you.

References

(1). Bijan J. Borah, Wanda K. Nicholson, Linda Bradley, Elizabeth A. Stewart. The impact of uterine leiomyomas: a national survey of affected women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013; 209 (4): 319.e1 DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2013.07.017



UFE is a nonsurgical procedure that treats all fibroids in a single session. Instead of surgically removing the uterus to treat symptoms like fibroid-related heavy periods and pelvic pain, UFE accesses fibroids through a small nick in the wrist or groin area. UFE blocks blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and bothersome symptoms to subside. An outpatient procedure, UFE... <a href="https://atlii.com///dontloseyouru-save-uterus-ufe/"> [Continue Reading]</a>



John C. Lipman, MD, names The Real Housewives Of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey to be the Atlanta Fibroid Center Celebrity Ambassador.

Television Personality, CEO of The Bailey Agency School of Fashion, and Star of Bravo’s hit reality show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), Cynthia Bailey joins one of the nation’s most renowned fibroid experts as the Celebrity Fibroid Awareness Ambassador in a crusade to save women from the devastating effects of uterine fibroids.

The RHOA Star, Super Model, and Entrepreneur, Cynthia Bailey, suffered embarrassing episodes due to uterine fibroids before meeting Dr. John C. Lipman. Now, Bailey and Lipman will launch an awareness campaign to tell women all over the world they can find relief in a non-surgical procedure, called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. Ms. Bailey remarked, “I highly recommend this method because it works! Dr. Lipman and UFE truly gave me my life back! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t keep your uterus before looking into this procedure first!”

Dr. Lipman has performed over 6,000 UFEs—more than any other physician as recently reported at SIR, the National Interventional Radiology meeting. Cynthia was one of his patients and her success with the procedure has been widely publicized, having candidly shared her experience with fibroids on RHOA. “Cynthia was an obvious fit with her willingness to reveal her journey back to health with the shows’ fans. She is very brave and a true ambassador!” says Dr. Lipman.

Fibroids are benign growths and are the most common pelvic tumors in women. One in every three adult women and 80 percent of African-American women has fibroids. They are not cancerous, and therefore treatment options have been overlooked as compared to treating cancerous tumors. Fibroids are the most likely reason women have heavy periods, and can also cause pelvic pain, bloating, and urinary frequency. Often women enduring these symptoms are told they need surgery, either myomectomy (removing some of the fibroids) or hysterectomy (removing the uterus).

Performed as an outpatient procedure, UFE takes less than an hour and patients are discharged home several hours later. Compared to surgery, UFE is safer, less invasive, less expensive, has a much shorter recovery time……and with UFE, patients keep their uterus. “Wearing white is a symbol of freedom from the symptoms of fibroids for those women who undergo UFE. Women suffering from fibroids never get to wear white because their entire life revolves around their period. We want to increase the awareness about UFE and the Atlanta Fibroid Center and help women get the relief from fibroids without any surgery!” says Dr. Lipman. “Often times fibroid sufferers are not told about this option by their gynecologists, and almost every patient that is a candidate for fibroid surgery is a candidate for UFE. We’re hoping to have a lot of women come to our White Pants event; particularly those suffering from fibroids so that they can learn more about UFE.”

Supermodel Cynthia Bailey is a resident of Atlanta, GA. The Alabama-born beauty moved to New York City over 25 years ago to pursue her dream of modeling, and is still a successful model in high demand. Since RHOA, Cynthia launched The Bailey Agency School of Fashion, Cynthia Bailey Eyewear, and Cargo By Cynthia Bailey, a leather goods line.

To make an appointment with Dr. Lipman, or to receive additional information, please call (770) 953-2600, or send us a message.

Cynthia Bailey Named Fibroid Awareness Ambassador Press Release



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Atlanta Fibroid Center
of Atlanta Interventional Institute
John C. Lipman, MD, FSIR
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