You Have Fibroids? Removing Your Uterus Is Not The Only Option

Unless it's absolutely necessary.
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It's important that women suffering from uterine fibroids be made aware of all treatment options available to them.

"For some women, hysterectomy is the only option, but [it's] not for everyone," said Tanika Gray.

She is the founder of The White Dress Project -- a US-based organisation that works to raise awareness about uterine fibroids and is in South Africa this week to do the same.

Gray told HuffPost SA that, in 2013, doctors removed 27 fibroids from her -- after she was told she couldn't get pregnant. And this year, doctors told her the noncancerous tumours have returned.

Her mother also lost two sets of twins because of the same condition.

She is now on a mission now to educate women about the various treatment options available to them.

There are three main ones. A myomectomy, where fibroids are removed during open surgery. Secondly, a hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed.

The third alternative is uterine fibroid embolisation (UFE). "It's basically a uterine saving operation," said Gray. It is minimally invasive and has a much lower rate of complications compared with the other two, she explained.

"The overwhelming majority of women who have undergone UFE experience significant or total relief from heavy bleeding, pain and bloating. Other problems it can help resolve include a general feeling of heaviness and discomfort, constipation, urinary frequency and leg or back pain," dr Gary Sudwarts told Women24.

Sudwarts, a radiologist with the Fibroid Treatment Clinic, has joined forces with Gray to create more awareness about treatment options available in South Africa for the condition.

Get a second opinion if a doctor recommends a hysterectomy, Gray and Sudwarts advise. "We stay so loyal to our doctors, but it's important to get varying opinions because a lot of women don't know UFE is an option," suggested Gray.

Some hospitals that offer UFE in Gauteng are Netcare Park Lane, Netcare Sunward Park and Netcare Unitas Hospital in Pretoria. In Durban, it is Netcare St Augustines, while in Cape Town it is UCT Private Academic Hospital. Universitas Private Hospital in Bloemfontein also offers the procedure.

And just in case you were not aware, here are some symptoms of fibroids -- which are said to develop commonly in women in their thirties and forties:

  • heavy menstrual bleeding
  • pelvic pain
  • back and leg pain
  • pain during sex
  • exhaustion
  • an urge to eat soil or clay

It is recommended that one sees a doctor immediately should these symptoms persist.