Angela is a 46-year-old professional woman with two children, 10 and 13 years old. She was diagnosed with uterine fibroids when she was 40 years old.
“I was having heavy bleeding and weakness,” she said in an interview. “The OB/GYN I consulted discovered that I had five fibroids and was suffering from anemia and thyroid problems as well.”
“One of the first treatments doctors suggested was to take bioidentical hormones,” Angela remembers. These are laboratory-synthesized hormones with exactly the same structure as hormones made by your own body. “The hormones decreased the bleeding, regulated my monthly cycle, dramatically helped w/ PMS and reduced my uterus size by 3 centimeters. For me, the bio-identical hormones were like a life-vest in turbulent seas, I can not image my life without them! But, I was still very anemic,” she recalls. “For a while I searched for someone who would listen to me and help me find a solution that I was comfortable with. The doctors I saw – five in all – recommended surgery, but I wanted to find an alternative. I think it’s really important for women to know that they don’t have to listen to the first doctor they see if the solutions suggested don’t sound right to them. It is so important to seek out information by talking with other women, looking on-line and of course getting a second (or 3rd, 4th, 5th) doctor’s opinion. It’s so important to have a doctor that listens to you and takes into consideration your concerns and lifestyle. I feel so lucky to have found my doctor!
Even before Angela learned about the Focused Ultrasound Surgery procedure, she had made lifestyle changes that helped her cope with the fibroids, eating more healthy foods, taking up yoga and jogging.
“These natural approaches helped me feel better, but the fibroids were still a problem. Then I found out they were enrolling patients in a study of Focused Ultrasound Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, not far from where I live. When I signed up, they said I was a ‘perfect candidate.’ I was especially eager to try the new procedure because I was afraid of surgery and all the complications it can lead to. Also, with two children at home, and my job as an architect, I really liked the fact that Focused Ultrasound Surgery doesn’t involve a recovery time.” Angela found the Focused Ultrasound Surgery procedure was pain-free and the medical personnel were totally helpful and supportive. “Really, the hardest thing about the treatment was lying still in the MRI machine for so long,” she says.
About a year and a half after the Focused Ultrasound Surgery, I started having very painful bladder pressure. It was bothering me so much that I finally gave in and was actually scheduled for surgery, approved by my insurance company but was so nervous that as a last ditch effort went to a Naturopath and started acupuncture treatments. “ The naturopath recommended to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, to eat less red meat and dairy (because of the hormones the animals are fed), to get more of my protein from fish and legumes and to add certain daily supplements. “In just a short time, my symptoms actually went away! These changes eliminated my painful bladder pressure during exercise, so I’ve been able to exercise more and get in even better shape. My fibroids haven’t grown any, and my uterus is still shrinking.”
Angela doesn’t consider her experience with Focused Ultrasound Surgery, nor the other alternative interventions, a complete success. “It’s been two-and-a-half years since the procedure, and one year since seeing the Naturopath and receiving acupuncture treatments and I am still frustrated with my fibroids,” she reports. “The real frustration is that I know and can see that they are still there but should not be, the good news is the symptoms are gone. I still take bio-identical hormones follow the recommendations of the Naturopath, exercise regularly and I have acupuncture occasionally. I would advise women with fibroids to resort to surgery only after having exhausted all possible alternates. When you look at the possible complications of surgery, the pain, the time away from work – I think women with fibroids should definitely try the non-invasive alternatives first.” I have managed to eliminate my symptoms from fibroids without surgery and I hope others can learn from my experiences.