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My UFE Journey with Fibroids

January 16,2024

Imagine living life on the edge of a precipice, each day a fight against debilitating fatigue and the constant threat of painful fibroid symptoms?

Tashoryia Swain talked with Fibroid Fighters about how she reclaimed her life, after undergoing a successful UFE procedure three months ago. Swain also appeared with Fibroid Fighters Ambassador Eugenia Buie on “Girls, Lets Chat” to help other women better understand undergoing uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) to treat her fibroids.

Swain’s Fibroid Journey: Overcoming Fear

FF: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Tashoryia Swain. I am 44 years old. I am a Payment Integrity Analyst at Emblem Health. I am also an entrepreneur, owner of Creative Designs Galore.

FF: When did you first get fibroids?

I don’t remember exactly when I first found out that I had fibroid’s but I know that it’s been well over ten years.

FF: Why did you undergo UFE?

The reason I decided to get the UFE procedure was because I wanted to LIVE!

T. Swain
Swain underwent a successful UFE procedure that left her uterus and fertility intact.

FF: Can you tell us what you meant by that?
When I say that, I wanted to live, most people think I mean I wanted to be able to live a life not being so tired and fatigued and that’s part of what I mean.

However , when I say I wanted to LIVE, I really meant that I didn’t want to die.

One of the last times I was hospitalized for a blood transfusion the doctor said to me “you’re going to die, if you continue on this way”.

FF: Why was the doctor telling you that?

I had had so many blood and iron infusions, that I’ve lost count. Every time I went to the ER or the doctor after two period cycles my numbers were always a four or less! The doctors would ask me, ‘ how are you functioning?’ I would tell them I don’t know what it’s like to feel good or have hemoglobin levels above eight or nine. It got to the point where the doctors had difficulty getting a good vein because I’ve had so many needle punctures from the blood transfusions, and iron infusions.

FF: Did you talk with your doctors about fibroid treatment?

I was always afraid to get the other options to remove the fibroids such as myomectomy or hysterectomy.

FF: How did you learn about UFE?

When (my friend) Gina told me about her UFE procedure I was excited and I knew this would be my way out! However I still dragged my feet and let the suffering continue for another year. It wasn’t until the day that doctor said to me “you’re gonna die, if you continue on this way”.

THAT DAY I went home and scheduled my appointments to get the ball rolling.

FF: How did the procedure go?

I’m not going to lie. The day of the procedure, I was scared to death, but my faith in God was bigger than my fear! The procedure was painless and went smooth.

FF: What was your recovery like?

The few days after the procedure I experienced minor cramping. January 19th 2024 will be 3 months since my surgery. Although I have seen minor changes in my cycles the surgeon did inform me that it would take a few cycles before I see any major changes. I feel better! These days I’m able to enjoy life even when I’m on my cycle! That’s exciting for me because prior to the procedure, I couldn’t even leave the house while on my cycle because the bleeding and cramping was too severe.

FF: How do you feel now?

I’m truly excited to see where I’ll be in the next month or so.

FF: Do have any advice for other women with fibroids?

For anyone suffering with this ugly condition PLEASE take the steps to change your life! Do your research and go with whatever procedure works best for you! For years I thought I was the only woman in the world dealing with fibroid issues. There is a world of women like myself who are suffering in silence. You are not alone! There is help out there. 

Understanding Uterine Fibroid Embolization as a Fibroid Treatment

There are a number of ways that fibroids can be treated. Read more about Fibroid Treatment on our site.

We asked Dr. Jacob White, a Fibroid Specialist, questions about UFE. Dr. White has conducted research at Drexel Hahnemann University Hospital, Georgetown University Hospital Radiology, and the National Institutes of Health Radiology. He has contributed extensive research and knowledge to the medical academy through a multitude of presentations and publications. He currently is medical director at USA Clinics Group.

How are fibroids diagnosed?

Dr. White: At USA Fibroid Centers, our fibroid specialists are interventional radiologists who specialize in treating uterine fibroids and adenomyosis through nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedures and imaging. There is a vast array of tools used when diagnosing uterine fibroids such as:

  • advanced ultrasound technology
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI
  • x-ray, or hysteroscopy

If needed, our doctors use ultrasound imaging and may order an MRI if further information is needed.

What is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)?

While there are many ways to treat fibroids, the gold standard or best option, is called Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE, also known as Uterine Artery Embolization.

In this procedure, a small plastic catheter is inserted into an artery over the hip or the wrist. Once this plastic catheter is in the artery, IV contrast dye can be injected into the artery. As soon as the dye has had time to distribute, an X-ray picture is taken which opacifies, or “lights up” the artery showing the blood flow.

How Does UFE Eliminate Fibroid Symptoms?

A small thin catheter is threaded within the uterine artery and entering the uterus and the fibroids. The doctor can see which artery is feeding the fibroid. At this point, small particles can be injected through the plastic catheter and into the uterine artery branches that are supplying the fibroid.

The particles block the arteries which bring blood and oxygen to the fibroid. Without its blood supply, the fibroid will die and shrink down, consequently reducing the symptoms.

Are there any incisions into the uterus or surrounding tissue?

No, unlike myomectomy or hysterectomy, there are no incisions. With UFE, women leave with a band aid.

What is the first step for women who want to learn more about UFE procedure to treat fibroids?

Usually, most women start their fibroid journey talking with their health provider. However, if your symptoms are severe, it’s usually best to talk with a fibroid specialist to determine the best treatment plan for you. At USA Fibroid Centers, we discuss the full range of options available, so that a woman can evaluate her best treatment plan. For further assistance, here are links to educational articles on fibroids and UFE treatment:

What You Need to Know About Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Success Rates: National Library of Medicine

1/2024

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