Hysterectomy with fibroids

stonyriverDecember 18, 2007

Hi all. I'm new to this forum -- thanks to everyone for contributing. It's so great to realize I'm not alone.

I have an almost fist-sized fibroid growing through the wall of my uterus and am planning a hysterectomy next month. Does anyone have any experience with these circumstances, and can you tell me if they ended up being able to do the LAVH (laparascopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy -- drag it out through the vagina) or if they had to do the abdominal incision for yours?

Does anyone have any advice/old wives' tales on how I might shrink this fibroid in the coming weeks?

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hunter_tx

Well, if you're having surgery in a month, I doubt that anything will shrink it appreciably. I had a partial hyst at a fairly young age, so I never dealth with fibroids personally, but if you are familiar with any of John Lee MD's books, he believed that "estrogen dominance" played a part in development of fibroids, and he put his patients on progesterone cream to treat them. He also suggested that a woman who planned to have surgical intervention try to find a surgeon who could remove the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact, especially if it was a single fibroid as opposed to several small ones. Treatment with progesterone would take much more time than one month, if I were to guess, so I doubt it would be of any help to you.
On the general subject of hysterectomies, I had an abdominal hysterectomy (just my uterus) 20 years ago. It was a simple procedure and didn't require laparpscopy, but with fibroids, it may be that they connect to other tissues which would make the procedure more complicated than the one I had.
Mrs H

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 6:33AM
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stonyriver

Thanks Mrs. H. Yeah, I know it's pretty late in the game to be asking for advice. I know losing a little weight and getting in better cardiovascular shape will be good. I was just looking for the off-chance that someone would come up with, "Oh, yeah, drink grapefruit juice twice a day" and fibroids disappear!" Nope, no such luck. :)

I am really looking forward to this as a solution to some rather disruptive symptoms. I'll let everyone know how it turns out.

Thanks again for the response. My friends are a dear source of support and advice, but there's nothing like women who have come to a specific place to talk about these topics to make one feel a mite more normal.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 8:52PM
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hunter_tx

Are you keeping your ovaries? If so, and it's just the uterus and fibroid that will be removed, there shouldn't be many disruptive symptoms. The ovaries are the main source of active hormone action. The only problem I had as a result of uterine removal was vag dryness, and that is common. I still had pms symptoms for about ten years following my partial hyst, and I still have partial hormonal function at this point (at age 50). It's really starting to wane, though, and when I went to my gyn a couple of weeks ago, she is encouraging hormone replacement with bio-identicals. I'm still on the fence with that one. Maybe when I grow a beard I will change my mind :)
Good luck with your surgery. Let us know how everything goes.
Mrs H

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 3:15PM
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gibby2015

How about a uterine artery embolization (UAE) and avoid the hysterectomy altogether? It's a non-surgical procedure with recovery time of about a week. This is what I did for a 10cm fibroid - about the size of a grapefruit. See an interventional radiologist for a consultation to see if you're a good candidate for this procedure. Gynecologists often don't tell people about this option since they don't perform this procedure - a disservice to their patients in my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 6:24PM
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stonyriver

Thanks Mrs. H and Gibby. Yes, I'm keeping my ovaries unless the doc finds something horrific in there. I discussed the uterine artery embolization with my gynecologist, and we came to the conclusion that it would not solve my problem. In addition to the big fibroid, I have some benign tumor material growing back into the wall of my uterus which is causing a constant watery discharge that has become more troubling and distruptive than all other symptoms. I can't wait for this surgery.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 11:12PM
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jannie

I started getting long heavy periods about six years ago, so I went to my gynecologist. Had a trans vaginal sonogram, not exactly painful but I felt a lot of pressure. I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors. I did some research and decided to wait it out, wait for menopause. I continued having long heavy periods until I was about 53 and a half, 18 months ago. Then my periods stopped, first for four months, then seven, then two, my last period was August 2007 and it wasn't heavy, just a few days of spotting. I turned 55 November 15 2007. I consider my fibroids "in remission". I am not missing my periods at all. Sex is still fun but I have no worries, I am not always waiting for my period. I love menopause!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 9:31PM
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jeanauss

Dear Stoney...

I am happy to say with time everything gets better ...
I had abdominal incision on March 17, 2006. I had several fibroids removed and a large cyst removed from my ovaries... The surgery went well and I was able to keep my ovaries... if not I would have gone into full menopause.
I was very active not overweight but had to take progesteral to stop the bleeding and I immediatly went from 130 to 160 and to date am down to 150. There is so much to tell you and such short time, the only thing I can say is ask someone who has been through it although it is always different... I will answer any questions if I can help. First make sure you have help the first two weeks do nothing !!! ask for pain meds, get a good natural laxative I used Swiss Kriss... Look up Hystersister they sell ice packs you will need... Buy loose fitting clothes and get ready for mood swings, I take Vitex for that... Try to walk the next day ... slowly... now remember these are only a few tips I wish I had before. It's almost 10 months since abdominal incision surgery. I feel great, take my Vitex am exercising and do get depressed at times, sad for no reason but try very hard to keep a good positive attitude and tell those around us when I'm having a bad day. This is the best site to be on these ladies are an inspiration... Keep reading and writing your worth it. I hope I helped a bit. Believe me I tried everything Jeana

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 11:19PM
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linn_z

I had polps removed but they grew back quickly so i had a hysterectomy Nov 12, 2007. Vertical incision, they were checking for possible cancer and thought they may have to cut more but it turned out fine. The spinal they gave me before surgery removed any pain or discomfort for 24 hours, enough time to get up and moving. They removed the ovaries and cervix, I'm 60, didn't need them.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 11:34PM
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stonyriver

Hey thanks you guys. A week from Monday I go in for the surgery. I think it's all going to go fine. I'll let you all know when I can.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 1:07PM
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jeanauss

GOOD LUCK... make sure you have plenty of help, I found a belly belt that helps with the swelling and supports you. It is frozen and helps ice the area after your stitches are removed,and helps support your tummy. I found it on Hystersisters.com very neat website for ladies that have gone through what we are going through.It's called the Swelly BElly Band www.chileegear.com only if you need something like this. Good Luck and REST !!!
Jeana

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 12:09PM
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stonyriver

Thanks Jeana. I got something like that at a local drugstore, and I plan to take full advantage of doc's orders to take it easy. :) Got my whimper down just right.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 10:42PM
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rivkadr

I'm following this thread with some interest -- I was diagnosed with fibroids two years ago, and over the past few months, my symptoms have gotten especially bad (lower back pain, spotting, cramping; I've always had pressure against my bladder and bowels, but that's been bearable). I went in for an ultrasound last week, and it turns out that my uterus is full of smallish fibroids -- "riddled" with them, is what my gynecologist said.

She said I'm not a very good candidate for UAE, because the rapid growth of the fibroids over the past two years, and the sheer numbers of them suggest that even if I had the procedure right now, I would just develop several more fibroids over time, and then have to have the procedure again, and possibly again. So she's recommending hysterectomy.

I'm giving it some time to play out and see how I feel over the coming months; if I continue to have this severe lower back pain and intermittent spotting, then I'm probably going to go ahead with it. It's very scary to think about, though -- it IS major surgery after all. So I'll be watching this thread with interest to see how it goes for you stonyriver, and crossing my fingers for you!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 5:50PM
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Gina_W

rivkadr, I'm just starting to have troublesome symptoms from my fibroids as well. After many years of no symptoms, they've decided to act up! Anyway, the Mayo clinic has a concise web section on treatments that may be a helpful read.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Gina_W
    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:24PM
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rivkadr

Thanks, gina -- I've been looking into other options, too, but I don't think there's much out there for me.

- drugs like Lupron seem like a short term fix to me, and from what I've heard from talking to other women online, the side effects seem pretty horrendous. I also get severe migraines, so most of those drugs probably wouldn't be good for me.

- Myomectomy is out for me, too, again because of the sheer prevalence of the fibroids in my uterus. There's just too many of them that trying to preserve the uterus is not possible (or so my gyno says)

- the ultrasound surgery sounds interesting, but I wonder if my insurance would cover it? Because it's so new, I highly doubt it.

My biggest concern is the recurrence of the fibroids. Two years ago, I only had a few; now I have a ton of them. That suggests that for some reason I'm rapidly growing them. Any procedure that removes them now isn't going to ensure further growth of them; I don't want to go through surgery just to have to keep doing it every few years, you know?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 4:23PM
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Gina_W

I also just signed up with a Yahoo group I found yesterday - uterinefibroids group. I can't post a link here because I guess some groups have spammed these forums.

It seems that in perimenopause when your hormones fluctuate - progesterone levels fall and leave the estrogen levels "unchecked" - and this can cause previously stable fibroids to start growing or new ones to appear.

All this is supposed to calm down upon menopause but what are we supposed to do before then? Ugh.

I have a doc appointment next week, he'll probably send me for another of those wonderful ultrasounds. I'll keep you posted!

I'm going to start a new thread about fibroids - see you there.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 2:30PM
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stonyriver

Hi all. The hysterectomy Monday went great. He was able to do the whole thing with no incisions -- all through the vagina! Not even any small incision for the laparascope. I don't know how he managed, but he said he just cut away at the uterus and the big fibroid and got them all out. Ovaries look great and stayed in place. I feel pretty darn wonderful. Spent one night in the hospital and came home before lunch Tuesday.

I did have trouble in recovery -- apparently my blood oxygen level dropped and they couldn't give me any more pain meds for fear it would drop further, so I did hurt there for about five hours. The floor nurses gave me meds after I got up there and I felt better. Only mild nausea, and they gave me meds for that. No catheter upon waking, so I got to get up and go pee. I really think this is the way to go -- I do already feel "lighter" in the abdomen, not so squishy and heavy.

My advice is ask your girlfriends and find a surgeon who's done a good job for someone you trust, and sign on with him/her. That's what I did and I'm not sorry. Then tell your surgeon your concerns, even the ones you think might be asking too much, like "I don't want a catheter when I'm awake."

I did have some severe constipation, probably from the Vicodin pain pills. I took only two a day, but I suffered for it. I'm not taking any more and I don't hurt at all, just a little sore and tired. Oh, and don't try pushing the silverware drawer closed -- even that is too much of a push/pull action. They really mean it when they say NO PULLING ANYTHING. NO PUSHING ANYTHING. It will surprise you what muscles you use for that.

He took my cervix, so sewed a flap at the end of it and sewed that to the muscles that used to hold up the uterus. Those muscles are attached to the back muscles.

The big fibroid was fist-sized and pressing hard on my intestines. Gee, that explains the irritable bowel syndrome, eh?

I swear to God, ladies, I feel so much better. Of course, I was really suffering there for about three years, and my body did me the favor of starting one last period last Friday just before the surgery. :) So yeah, bottom line, hysterectomy, regardless of how much it might have been abused in the past by the male-dominated medical profession, is sometimes exactly what a woman wants.

Best wishes to all of you as you take good care of yourselves and one another, and research your options. You've been a great comfort and help to me.

sincerely,
Stony

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 9:18PM
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Gina_W

Congratulations Stony! There is still a place for hysterectomies in our arsenal. Feeling pain-free and healthy is so important to our quality of life. I'm glad this worked out well for you.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 2:39PM
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linn_z

So glad everything went well for you! As I posted earlier Mine went fine, infact I had the flu last week which was worse than the surgery! With the flu I had diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. With the surgery my pain was controlled, I could eat, sleep, just had to be a little careful because there was an incision. When I tell people the flu was worse they say "Are you kidding?" Actually, no.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 9:12PM
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gibby2015

Rivkadr - you really should be evaluated by an interventional radiologist to see if you are a good candidate for UFE. Gynecologists rarely give an educated, unbiased opinion on this - since it's a procedure they don't perform nor are they well trained in it - surprising as that may seem - since it's performed on the part of the anatomy that is their specialty. If you're close to menopause it can be very successful in permanently resolving fibroid symptoms.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 11:39PM
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