The Fibroid Fighters Foundation is honored to share Carmel’s fibroid story to help other women struggling with fibroid disease. Part of our mission is to inform women that they do not need to suffer from uterine fibroids and that the embolization of fibroids (UFE) is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment option. We believe that by encouraging women to share their stories, we can raise awareness of both uterine fibroids disease and alternative treatment options to hysterectomy.
Uterine fibroids are the most common cause for hysterectomy in the United States, contributing to 30-50% of all hysterectomies. However, up to one in five women who have hysterectomies may not have needed the surgery. The leading reason women opt for hysterectomy is because their healthcare provider recommends it. We want women to know they have options besides hysterectomy so that they have the information to make the best choices for their care and well-being.
Carmel’s story is similar to a lot of women we have talked to about their experience with fibroids. After suffering increasingly painful symptoms and years of trying to get pregnant, Carmel was diagnosed with fibroids. Read her fibroid story below to find inspiration and hope from her fight with fibroids.
Starting in 2018, I had been gaining more and more weight, but I couldn’t understand why. Soon, the pain in my stomach and back started hurting so much that I decided to go see a doctor. However, the doctor told me I was Ok: she didn’t find anything wrong. This made me think that maybe I had gastrointestinal issues, bloating, or was just gaining weight. I didn’t know what to think, really.
At the same time, my husband and I had been trying for years to have a baby, following my misscarriage in January of 2016. I couldn’t get pregnant, so I went to see my OBGYN and explained my symptoms and fertility concerns. My OBGYN felt my stomach and requested an ultrasound for further testing. The ultrasound revealed that I had three fibroids. My OBGYN said that I had options for treating my fibroids, but that they weren’t severe enough. She suggested that we do a Dilation and Curettage (D&C) procedure, which involves dilating the uterine cervix so that the lining tissue (endometrium) of the uterus can be removed by scraping or suction, and then go from there.
I underwent the DNC like she recommended, but soon after I started having bladder issues. I was leaking to the point where I had to wear a pad everyday and every night because the fibroids were crushing my bladder. I also had to start sleeping on a towel so I wouldn’t leak through the pad at night. My doctor told me that my fibroids had grown back, so I underwent a second DNC. After this second procedure, my doctor prescribed me a lot of medication, but nothing changed: things actually got worse.
I was unable to get another procedure because fibroids were not considered an emergency during COVID-19. My fibroids kept growing until they were the size of a newborn baby’s head. I felt I had no choice but to get a hysterectomy. I underwent a full abdominal hysterectomy, a surgery that removes the uterus and cervix through an incision in the abdomen.
Yes, the hysterectomy got the fibroids out, but what about me wanting another child? It was like the hysterectomy solved one problem, but created others. I am often sad and cry at night because I want another child. I am still experiencing back pain, and my stomach is numb from the hysterectomy. In addition to the emotional and physical pain, I found out from my doctor that fibroids were the cause of my miscarriage, because one of my fallopian tubes was blocked.
I really wish I could have gotten a better solution than a hysterectomy. My fibroids took me through days of not being able to work or be with my family. I was in constant pain and had bad headaches frequently. I didn’t tell anyone how I was suffering because I wanted to be strong and happy for my loved ones. I’m not sure how I am supposed to overcome this depression caused by me losing the ability to have children after the hysterectomy. I am sharing my story so other women know not to stay silent about their pain, symptoms, or struggle with fibroids. Maybe me speaking about my battle, even though I didn’t have a happy ending to my story, will help the next woman who feels like hysterectomy is her only choice, and prevent her from going through what I did. I am a Fibroid Fighter, and this is my story to share so that other women know they are not alone and that they have options besides hysterectomy.
When were you first diagnosed with fibroids? How old were you?
C: I was 33-34 when I was first diagnosed, and I got my hysterectomy at 36.
Do uterine fibroids run in your family?
C: No, no one else in my family has had uterine fibroids.
What kinds of symptoms did you experience with fibroids?
C: I experienced back pain, stomach pain, headaches, and urinary incontinence.
What made you decide on getting treatment when you did?
C: I went to my OBGYN at Mercy Hospital, and she recommended my treatment.
Did you try other methods of treatment first before deciding on the hysterectomy?
C: I underwent a D&C (dilation and curettage) twice before my hysterectomy.
What would you say to other women that are currently suffering from fibroids?
C: Get checked, know your options, and stay strong.
Share Your Story
If you have uterine fibroids, or if you’ve already had fibroid treatment, we want to hear from you! Sharing your story with us can be a valuable resource for other women who think they may have fibroids, are currently struggling with fibroid symptoms, or are weighing their treatment options. When you share your fibroid story, you have the opportunity to potentially inspire another woman to think twice before pursuing hysterectomy for treatment or ignoring their symptoms.