Uterine Fibroid Surgery: What Going Under the Knife Is Like

5 years ago

I am having surgery on my uterus. It is a tricky situation, because fertility and the ability to reproduce are things that I and many women hold dear to their hearts. Although I am not planning to have a child anytime soon, I do value my ability to do so. But now, something's gotten in the way.

Image: Renee Ross

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the muscle tissue in the uterus. 70% to 80% of all women will develop fibroids by age 50. However, they are most common in black women and generally develop between the ages of 30-40. The risk for fibroids is also increased if you have a familial history of them. Many women are completely unaware that they have fibroids until they are told by their physician. When fibroids are not problematic, the general advice is to watch them because the can grow and multiply. I was first diagnosed with fibroids many years ago and my doctor would give me periodical sonograms to watch their growth. I didn't have any of the problems associated with fibroids like heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, distended stomach. Nada. But about a year and a half after my diagnosis, I was in excruciating pain that generated from my lower back and abdomen into my legs.

It wasn't a consistent pain but after about a week I woke up in the middle of the night praying to God to take the pain away. The next day I went to the hospital and it was revealed that my fibroids had multiplyed and grown like crazy. And I was told my pain was probably being caused by one or more of my fibroids "dying" and having an effect similar to a heart attack in my uterus. To avoid any future occurances of such attacks my doctor and I decided that removal was the best option. I went under the knife with the full knowledge that I'd be unable to have a natural childbirth but I tell you the sacrifice was worth it. The pain I experienced I can now say was similar to labor contractions, maybe worse!

My surgery was called a myomectomy and the doctor did a bikini cut and went in to remove the fibroids. Because of the sheer number of fibroids in my uterus he was unable to remove all of them but he got the largest which was the size of a naval orange and others. During my pregnancy 2 years later, my doctors watched my fibroids but they behaved and caused no problems.

Fast forward to recent times. My body told me something was wrong when I experienced the never ending period. When I say NEVER ending, I mean NEVER. During my visit to the doctor last week my sonogram showed a 3 cm fibroid right above my cervix which is the likely cause of my problem. I was given the option of hysterectomy - full removal of my uterus which would take care of the fibroid problem forever or myomectomy. Of course, I can take the wait and see approach but my quality of life has truly been diminished and I can't continue to live this way. Other options like the pill simply won't work for me because estrogen causes me to be hypertensive and that risk is not worth the reward.

So, on March 18th I will once again have surgery. I'm not frightened about it because I now have the answer to why I've been having so many problems. And although I rarely ask, friends and family have generously offered to help me out during my six week recovery period. For once I am going to have to really take off my Superwoman cape and have the assistance I need. And funny enough, this might be more frightening than the surgery itself! I'll be sure to keep you posted about my progress. But in the meantime if you want to read more about fibroids here are some resources you might find helpful:

It's a Sistah Thing: A guide to understanding and dealing with fibroids for Black Woman

What your doctor may not tell you about uterine fibroids

Uterine Fibroids - WebMD

Have you been diagnosed with fibroids or do you know someone who has? Please share any resources or information that is helpful in the comments. I'd really appreciate it!

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