A Personal Journey: Overcoming Fibroids and Empowering Wellness
Trigger Warning: Just as a heads up, this blog post contains images that contain blood. We are sharing for educational purposes.
I am a native of Atlanta, GA and passionate about Brand Building in my day job. Overall, I am passionate about and love all things related to my family/friends, community, and continuing to evolve (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and I love a good time, good laugh, and good food/drinks!!
Learning about Fibroids
I first learned that I had fibroids in 2017 when I moved back to Atlanta from Cincinnati.
Almost a year before I was diagnosed, I noticed my cycles had gotten a bit heavier in that I would have to change my pads more frequently and started wearing the thicker pads.
During my annual appointment, my OBGYN shared that she thought she felt fibroids. An ultrasound confirmed I did in fact have fibroids. After discussing my options with my OBGYN, I decided the best action for me was to monitor them but not have them removed since I was not ready to have child(ren) and to reduce the number of times I would have to put my body through the trauma of major surgery, given that I knew fibroids in most cases do return in a matter of a few years once they are removed.
My OBGYN shared that there may be a genetic component with fibroids. I have family members who had fibroids, so I was more likely to develop them. My mom and her sisters had been diagnosed with fibroids, and at some point, in their lives took steps to have them removed, by partial hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). This method ensures the fibroids will not return since they grow on the uterus, however it also removes the ability to carry a child. This worked for them as they had already given birth to children, but I wanted to explore my options as I still want to have children.
In 2022, I started the process of freezing my eggs. At the start of this process, I was informed that I could not freeze my eggs because the fibroids had grown large enough to shift my ovaries to a location that would not allow for the egg freezing procedure. Additionally, during an annual visit with my PCP doctor, she asked word for word “what are you going to do about these fibroids?” as she felt them with her hands from the outside of my abdomen. My fibroids had become so large that had I became pregnant; it was a high probability that I would lose the child because the fibroids would puncture the “sack.” At that point I knew I had to take action for my personal health and future goals.
My symptoms in 2022 were vastly different from my symptoms in 2017.
- I gained weight and the fibroids had grown to the size as if I were 5 months pregnant.
- I could feel the fibroids from the outside and felt them shifting slightly on the inside.
- I experienced increased cramps and back pain as the fibroids grew.
- My cycles had gotten more unmanageable:
- More bleeding, to the point of using the thickest and longest pad on the market.
- I required frequent pad changes, every 2 hours (even waking up out of my sleep to change them).
- I started to take iron supplements because of the amount of blood that I was losing.
- My cycles were longer, lasting at least 7 days.
At this point, my OBGYN helped me explore my options. Considering the size and location of my fibroids and the fact that I still wanted to have children, we decided that the best option for me was a myomectomy. A myomectomy requires the same incision as a c-section so the doctor can easily cut the fibroids off the uterus, which preserves the uterus and only removes the visible fibroids. Prior to my procedure we re-measured and mapped the location of the fibroids via an ultrasound and MRI in preparation. My procedure was expected to last 3-4 hours but ended up lasting 6 hours. I had to receive 6 transfusions and they removed 22 fibroids in total, the largest fibroid was 8cm.
This was my first major surgery, and it took a physical and mental toll on my body/mind. I made sure I had things in place for the physical recovery process and my mental health. I had a conversation with my therapist before surgery, during recovery, and after recovery. I am incredibly grateful for my circle of family and friends whose care, visits, thoughts, and prayers mean more than they will ever know. Those who had the procedure gave me advice: “Overall it is worth it because I will feel the difference and it is a good thing! I no longer have foreign objects in my body that drain my nutrients, energy, and body. “
I want to share some advice that has helped me in case it may help you!
- Start the process to understand what your unique situation is (understand what your future goals are, understand the size and location of your fibroids, ensure you have a team of doctors who you trust and are comfortable enough with to ask any and every question).
- Monitor and understand changes in your body and be vocal about those things. You are the owner of your body and only you can be the advocate for your body. Be honest to yourself and others about what you are feeling and educate yourself.
- Put your health first! Before work, before things, before people.
- Make the right decision for YOU, every situation is unique and there is not a cookie cutter solution.
- Do not shy away from sharing your journey, there is so much benefit in equipping others by sharing your experience and gaining knowledge others may have to share with you.
For more information about Fibroids or to find a culturally competent healthcare provider, visit our partner Health in Her HUE®. Health in Her HUE® is a digital network of culturally sensitive healthcare providers, evidence-based health content, and community support.
For educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding your health.