Uterine fibroid bleeding wreaks havoc on everyday life. The physical discomfort of severe bleeding from fibroids often leads to emotional distress for the person living with the condition as well as their loved ones. Many people living with uterine fibroids suffer for extended periods of time because they don’t know how to stop the bleeding. And when they turn to some medical practitioners for help, they don’t always get the support they need as we can assume from many women’s stories about fibroids.
Unfortunately, this was how Jasmine’s journey with uterine fibroids and bleeding began. Although her fibroid story of severe bleeding began with despair, with the help of a supportive spouse along with the compassion and expertise of Dr. John Lipman of Atlanta Fibroid Center, Jasmine chose the UFE procedure and received complete relief from fibroids.
The Beginning of a Difficult Journey with Fibroid Bleeding
A determined woman and driven engineer with her loving husband Reggie and their precious dog by her side, uterine fibroids, and the severe bleeding caused by the condition were crippling intrusions into Jasmine’s life.
When the bleeding began in 2016, Jasmine didn’t realize she had a major problem. She noticed that her periods were longer with every cycle, but as many women experience irregularities with their menstrual cycles, she assumed her heavier periods were new normal.
Month after month, despite not having uterine pain or cramping (classic signs of fibroids), her periods got worse. At first, her periods lasted a week. With each cycle, her periods stretched longer until she experienced periods that were the exact opposite of a normal menstrual cycle – three weeks of bleeding with only a week of relief every month.
She grew concerned about outfit mishaps and the amount of time she spent in the restroom during her workday dealing with the heavy bleeding.
In 2017, about a year after she first started to experience prolonged periods and severe bleeding, Jasmine called her sister crying. She felt anger and frustration towards her uterus and she couldn’t understand why she was going through this suffering.
“I just wanted it to stop,” Jasmine recounts.
Jasmine sought treatment before, but her first visit ended with a recommended treatment of a short-term drug to decrease bleeding and hormonal birth control pills, which she didn’t feel was an appropriate option for her. With her sister’s encouragement, Jasmine visited another gynecology center and saw a nurse practitioner. Unlike the medical professional she saw before, this nurse practitioner inquired about Jasmine’s general wellbeing and ordered a blood test.
Jasmine was unaware that the results of that blood test would be the start of a difficult journey of suffering with and healing from uterine fibroids.
Fibroid Diagnosis with Limited Options
The day after Jasmine’s visit to the clinic, she received a call. Panicked, the nurse practitioner she saw the previous day told Jasmine,
“You need to go to the ER right now. If you don’t go, you can die. You are severely anemic.” Her condition was so serious, she received a blood transfusion in the ER.
“She had to get to the brink of death before anyone did a routine blood test,” Reggie, her husband, laments.
The nurse practitioner referred to a gynecologist who performed an ultrasound. It revealed that the cause of her severe bleeding and never-ending periods were large uterine fibroids. The gynecologist began to rattle off a number of possible treatments, including an intrauterine device (IUD) but then said that she’s not an ideal candidate as her fibroids were distorting her uterus and the IUD wouldn’t stay in place. The final, and best option by his calculations, was a hysterectomy.
Everything seemed to happen so fast. All of this news came unexpectedly and she was in shock.
Unwilling to acknowledge Jasmine’s fears, the doctor offered to schedule the procedure for the following week saying she’d be “in and out, done.”
Immediately after leaving that appointment, Jasmine went to her car, broke down, and cried. Before getting the diagnosis of uterine fibroids, Jasmine hated her uterus and wanted to get rid of it. Now with an explanation for her suffering, she couldn’t imagine getting a hysterectomy. While there are many ways to connect with one’s womanhood, for Jasmine, her uterus was part of her feminine identity. She knew other women who had hysterectomies and suffered from longterm negative side effects from the procedure. Other solutions had to exist, she just wasn’t sure where to turn first.
When she shared the news with her husband, he supported her and encouraged her to take her time with the decision. Their healthcare options were limited because they were uninsured. In an effort to get better options for health coverage, Reggie took a full-time position in the Midwest, completed his degree remotely, and the couple left Florida in the fall of 2018.
By this time, Jasmine was experiencing a year-long menstrual cycle, was unable to work, and physically out of shape. She was able to care for their beloved dog, but she barely left the house because of the uterine fibroid bleeding.
Eventually, the bleeding became so severe that she had to stay naked from the waist down. She was now wearing tampons and diapers as she could no longer use pads.
One night, at one in the morning, she had a gushing accident so intense that she had to go to the ER. All of the medical staff she encountered that night seemed overwhelmed by her condition. Blood gushed everywhere — on the nurse, on the floor, in her shoes. The attending ER physician, asked Jasmine, “What do you want me to do? Shove something up there to stop the bleeding?” Jasmine and Reggie were shocked. They found the doctor’s question “barbaric, uneducated, and hurtful.”
“I don’t know how these doctors can look at a patient and see that they’re going through something traumatic… Why would they say something to make it worse?” Reggie, Jasmine’s husband.
Still left with no alternative solution to a hysterectomy, the couple researched doctors in other healthcare facilities nearby. When they eventually found another doctor, he performed an ultrasound and confirmed the diagnosis of uterine fibroids. He scheduled Jasmine for a dilation and curettage (D&C) to try and remove her fibroids, then insert an IUD as a treatment. Jasmine remembered that her previous doctor advised against an IUD, but she was desperate for the bleeding to stop so she agreed to the procedure. It was painful, and it never stopped the bleeding, but it reduced enough so she could return to work.
Jasmine’s IUD Causes More Issues
A few months after her IUD was placed, she returned home from work and felt a sharp, stabbing pain in her uterus. An ultrasound showed that the IUD had partially perforated her uterus. Bouncing between two other doctors while the gynecologist who placed her IUD was on vacation, she was presented with the following options: keep trying the IUD which has already failed once or get a hysterectomy.
She felt like everything was just leading back to a hysterectomy. Any glimmer of hope was growing dimmer with each appointment.
When she finally saw her original gynecologist again, she was met with indifference.
“The only thing we can do is a hysterectomy. That’s it. Nothing else is going to work,” he said. Upon hearing this, Jasmine immediately broke down in tears.
When the doctor saw her crying, he hesitantly said, “Well, there’s one more thing you can try, but I don’t think it’s going to work,” and he left the office and announced he’d be back. The doctor didn’t return, instead, a nurse came in the room with a pamphlet about the uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure. They weren’t given any more information at that visit, but thankfully, that was not the first time the couple had heard of UFE.
Almost a year before the couple received the pamphlet about the procedure, Reggie heard a radio program where women were discussing their journeys with fibroids and the UFE treatment in Atlanta. Those women’s fibroid stories sounded familiar to what his wife Jasmine experienced. So when the nurse handed them that UFE pamphlet, Atlanta clicked in his mind and he remembered what he heard on the radio.
As soon as they got home, Reggie Googled “fibroids in Atlanta” and Dr. Lipman popped up. He watched Dr. Lipman’s documentary “Freedom from Fibroids” and filled with optimism, convinced Jasmine to watch it, too. Jasmine listened to the women in the film speak about how UFE worked for them and thought to herself, “What if I’m one of those women?” Watching the documentary gave her hope. Through her hesitation, Jasmine made the decision to go through with UFE.
A Long-Awaited Solution to Fibroids and Bleeding
When Jasmine called the top-tier medical center in her state to inquire about the UFE procedure, she could sense that the medical professionals there weren’t comfortable with or didn’t like performing the UFE procedure. The uneasiness of that medical center gave Jasmine and Reggie zero confidence that they’d find the best UFE doctor locally. That was when they looked into Dr. Lipman and the Atlanta Fibroid Center more closely.
Jasmine called Dr. Lipman’s office fearing that she’d meet the same resistance and dismissive tone of the medical professionals she encountered throughout her fibroid experience. Pleasantly surprised, she couldn’t believe the excellent level of service at Dr. Lipman’s office. She was even impressed by the introductory recording on the office phone!
“I felt like I was healing already just from my experience with them over the phone,” Jasmine, Atlanta Fibroid Center UFE patient.
The couple learned that there was a comprehensive program for out-of-state patients and made the decision that no one other than Dr. Lipman, several hundred miles away in Atlanta, would perform Jasmine’s UFE.
“The thing that kept [us] afloat was that even if Dr. Lipman does this and it doesn’t work, at least we knew we did everything we could have done to end my fibroid story. And that’s what we wanted from the beginning is a choice…” Reggie, Jasmine’s husband
At the initial video consultation, Dr. Lipman instructed Jasmine to get an MRI. That was the first time any medical professional made that suggestion in almost three years. The MRI revealed that she had a “legion of fibroids” that was crushing her bladder. Although she’d been to the ER numerous times and saw more than half a dozen medical professionals, this was the first time a doctor cared enough to thoroughly look into what was wrong. She remembers Dr. Lipman being “passionate, empathetic, sympathetic, and understanding” during the initial consultation.
From the video consultation to the day of the treatment, the UFE procedure with Dr. Lipman was a seamless experience. All of the treatment details and scheduling were confirmed within a week of the first consultation. Dr. Lipman was honest and set realistic expectations with the couple throughout the entire process. Jasmine felt as though she didn’t have to lift a finger even though she was out of state. She describes the whole experience at the Atlanta Fibroid Center from the first call to the follow-up appointment as a “fairytale”.
Immediately after her UFE procedure, Jasmine’s fibroid bleeding significantly decreased. Just days before she needed tampons and diapers, and right after UFE, she only needed to use pads. She was back to work two weeks after the procedure. She began to have regular menstrual cycles with a period that lasted 6-7 days instead of several months or a whole year. She’s saved money on feminine products, diapers, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Eight months after the UFE, during her follow-up appointment, she learned that there was an 80% reduction in the size of her fibroids and they were all dead. She probably would never need another procedure.
Jasmine can’t believe how much her life has changed for the better and that her uterine fibroid story was over.
Advice for Women Living with Uterine Fibroids
Jasmine and Reggie know firsthand how daunting the diagnosis of uterine fibroids is for women. It can put you at war with your own body and lead you to hopelessness. Even though the road to healing can seem long or even nonexistent, there is hope. If you or someone you love is suffering from severe fibroid bleeding, Jasmine advises you not to hesitate and see if the UFE procedure is a viable treatment option. She emphasizes this point by telling women, “Not to waste time. [You] don’t have to suffer.”
Reggie, supporting and comforting his wife every step of the way, echoes Jasmine’s sentiments:
“You set the tone for your treatment. Educate yourself about what’s out there. Don’t accept anything less than what you want — whatever your choice is, and don’t delay.”
Help Is Available at Atlanta Fibroid Center
If you are experiencing any symptoms of uterine fibroids, or you’re the loved one of someone living with fibroids, don’t hesitate to contact UFE doctor Dr. John Lipman and his caring staff at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. Contact Dr. John Lipman by calling 770-214-4600 or making an appointment online.