Do Uterine Fibroids really affect fertility?

While they may be non-cancerous, uterine fibroids are by no means harmless. Aside from the prolonged menstrual bleeding, and painful sex, some women have experienced difficulty trying to conceive. Other times, fibroids can present complications during pregnancy. While fibroids have never been proved as a direct cause of infertility, they certainly are no friend so someone trying to get a baby in them.

Fibroids are benign growths which develop from the smooth muscular uterine tissue. These ‘tumors’ affect women of reproductive age and, contrary to popular belief, fibroids are not a condition of older women only. Symptom severity ranges greatly with some women blissfully unaware of their fibroids and others wholly conscious of the troublesome mini-masses inside their womb.

The most commonly reported symptoms are prolonged and excessive menstrual bleeding, heaviness and discomfort in the abdominal region, pain during sexual intercourse as well back and leg pain. This, coupled with difficulty falling pregnant can be a huge cause of stress in a woman’s life.

The impact of fibroids on fertility has a lot to do with where the fibroid is located. While fibroids that remain small and ‘out of the way’ aren’t likely to impact your chances of having children, some fibroids can have a massive impact on the ability to conceive and when pregnant, actually carry a baby to term. Gynaecologist & Endoscopic Surgeon Dr. Natalia Novikova says that while fibroids have many problematic side effects, the most feared is the possible impact on fertility. ‘They might sometimes reduce fertility significantly though this will depend predominantly on the location of the growth. Fibroids that grow in the uterine cavity and obstruct or weaken the uterine lining or block a woman’s fallopian tubes can negatively impact implantation and the chances of healthy conception’ says Dr. Novikova.

Fibroids reduce fertility in the following ways:

  • Fibroids that are located at the opening of the fallopian tubes can cause disruption to the fertilized egg’s journey to the womb. In severe cases, the fibroids make it impossible for the fertilized egg to implant.
  • Fibroids near the cervix can impact its shape, affecting the number of sperm cells that are able to pass through to the uterus.
  • The shape of the uterus can also be affected and as a result, the fertilized egg has less opportunity for implantation. The space available for development of the embryo can also be compromised as a result.

Seeking fibroids treatment may become necessary for a woman struggling to conceive. Some women opt to treat their fibroids prior to conceiving as the presence of fibroids can be a cause of concern during pregnancy as well. Pre-natal care needs to include continuous monitoring by your gynaecologist of the fibroid development during pregnancy. Sometimes, fibroids grow as the baby grows. This growth can be quite rapid as hormone levels surge during this time, causing fibroids that were once undetectable to become visible. Fibroids have been linked to miscarriage, pre-term delivery and even contributing to an abnormal position of the fetus. In some cases, the presence of fibroids makes a C-section unavoidable to avoid the risk of heavy bleeding after giving birth. Though the chances of fibroids complicating your pregnancy are low, it’s best to keep an eye out for anything untoward.

Fibroids are typically treated via surgery with the patients’ medical history and their baby-making plans being carefully considered before choosing an appropriate treatment. A hysterectomy is an obvious no-no for women still hoping to conceive and the less extreme myomectomy is also not ideal.  A myomectomy is a procedure to surgically remove fibroids whilst preserving the uterus. Though effective, a myomectomy carries the risk of reoccurrence with a 50% chance of regrowth within 10 months should any cells remain after the procedure. If you’re having your fibroids removed to improve fertility, this gives you a pretty short window of opportunity to fall pregnant. Surgical procedures carry the risk of trauma to the organ and a myomectomy is no exception as it is often being the cause of uterine scarring. The procedure can also impact the strength of the uterus. Uterine scarring can affect the chances of successful implantation whilst weaker uterine walls can compromise the ability of the uterus to carry a baby to term.

Thankfully, non-surgical alternatives do exist. Fibroid embolisation offers women a chance to treat their fibroids without jeopardising their chances of falling pregnant.  Interventional radiologist Dr. Andrew Lawson of the Fibroid Care initiative says that ‘Fibroids are one of the many causes for women being unable to fall pregnant’ and with fibroid embolisation ‘…the fibroids are starved of blood and no longer impact the ability of the womb to carry a baby.’

Fibroid embolisation makes use of x-rays, ultrasound technology and magnetic resource imaging (MRI) to provide effective results without the need for open surgery. The treatment is conducted through a tiny incision in the wrist or groin and has become the recommended treatment in developed regions, such as the UK, where the procedure is offered via the government healthcare system. Like any medical procedure, invasive or not, there are risks. Patients of embolisation could experience a catheter-related complication whereby a hematoma may occur at the site of the incision. There is also the risk of infection which is usually treatable with antibiotics. Though highly effective, a small risk of reoccurrence does exist, in which case embolisation or an alternative method will be conducted.

Dr. Lawson, who conducts the specialised procedure throughout Southern Africa, recommends that patients’ wait 4-6 months after embolisation before trying to conceive. He also goes on to advise that in cases where fibroids are detected after pregnancy, the procedure will only be possible 6-8 weeks after the end of pregnancy.

Although uterine fibroids are by no means pleasant, we urge you not to let the presence of useless lumps of muscular tissue get you down. As troublesome as they are, fibroids are also treatable. The important thing is to be aware of your body and address any concerns as soon as they surface. In doing so, you will ensure the healthiest possible environment for that little fertilized ovum. Fibroids may make the road to conceiving a little more exhausting but they won’t push you off the path completely so keep trying!

Online Sources:

Rape Crisis Centres South Africa

TEARS Foundation in Sandton

TEARS Foundation, founded in 2012 is a Registered NPO and PBO that uses technology innovatively in the scourge against domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. They have offices in Sandton, Gauteng Province.

Contact TEARS Foundation
Helpline:  *134*7355#
Landline: 010 590 5920
Fax: +27 (0) 86 520 0316
Email: info@tears.co.za

Rape Crisis Centre Cape Town

Rape Crisis Cape Town was established in 1976, the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust is the oldest organization in South Africa supporting the recovery of survivors, seeking justice and making a change in communities. They have offices in Observatory, Western Cape Province.

Contact Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust

24 hr Crisis Line: 021 447 9762  

Athlone: 021 633 9229    

Khayelitsha: 021 361 9085   

info@rapecrisis.org.za

Rape Crisis Centre Port Elizabeth

Rape Crisis Centre is a non-governmental organization who has been operating in the Port Elizabeth region since 1992. We are a non-profit organization (NPO) serving the needs of rape survivors, irrespective of racial, religious, gender or language backgrounds. They have Offices in Port Elizabeth

Contact Rape Crisis Centre PE

Tel: 041-484 3804

Fax: 041-487 1384

Email: director.rapecrisiscentre@rccpe.co.za

All Rape Crisis Centres in South Africa or any group that helps rape survivors in SA, we plead with you to please contact us urgently so we can add your details our list of organizations. We are passionate about helping others, therefore, please help us to help others

Labia Contouring – This hottest surgical trend of the season?

Labiaplasty, or labia contouring as it is sometimes referred to, is a procedure which reduces or reshapes the labia. The labia is essentially the vaginal lips which cover the clitoris and the vaginal opening. Though there is no ‘standard’ when it comes to the shape and size of the labia, many women experience daily difficulty as a result of prolonged labia minora (inner) or majora (outer). Rectification of longer or asymmetrical labia can be conducted by means of a labiaplasty which is performed by a gynaecologist who is skilled in aesthetics or by a plastic surgeon.

Reasons that women opt to undergo labia contouring include discomfort during sexual intercourse & exercise as well as frequent infections and itchiness. Sometimes women simply wish to alter the area for purely cosmetic purposes, as they experience a severe lack of self-esteem and sexual confidence. If you are interested in what the procedure entails, a qualified professional will talk you through the process. Many specialists resolve to only perform the procedure if they feel there is an adequate need for it. Any surgical procedure has risks and should only really be considered if there is a valid reason.

The procedure, which is more commonly conducted on the labia minora, is performed under local anaesthetic in an operating room. There are a number of ways a labiaplasty is conducted, the most frequently used being the trim or curvilinear technique, V-labiaplasty or central wedge resection and the de-epithelisation technique. A labiaplasty can take up to two hours to complete and patients are usually able to go home after the anaesthetic has worn off. Discomfort when sitting and when urinating can be expected as well as bloody discharge and some moderate bruising. The numbness has also been reported through this is usually temporary. Patients are also to avoid sexual intercourse for 6 weeks after the procedure.  The clitoral hood reduction may accompany the procedure as it is common for the clitoris to appear larger once the modifications to the labia have been made.

Women in South Africa are becoming increasingly interested in the treatment and as a result, access to a labiaplasty in Johannesburg and Cape Town is on the rise. It is essential that those looking to have the procedure done to consult with a qualified and experienced medical practitioner. The consequences of a poorly-executed surgical procedure are dire so avoid this by doing proper research and consulting with trusted specialists.

Labiaplasty treatment, among other aesthetic gynaecological treatments, is no stranger to controversy. Though it is important to acknowledge that labia can look very different and still be normal, women who seek to make small modifications to their labia should not be considered in a negative light. Taking control of your comfort and sexuality is empowering for a woman so should not be discouraged. Check out labialibrary.org for more insight into the wonderful world of female labia and prepare to be amazed at just how inclusive the range of ‘normal labia’ is.

Recovering From Sexual Assault

Rape is a sexual offense that happens very often in all parts of the world. Many people are behind bars for this offense. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, at least one in every five people has been sexually abused at some point in their lives. This is a heartbreaking fact that we all have to face. The numbers increase day after day, despite seminars, protests, and the creation of awareness against this vice.

Sexual assault may sound like a common offense for someone who has not experienced it. Nevertheless, the pain can be described as awful for the victims. This is because they not only need to recover from the physical pain but also deal with the aftermath. This is usually a tedious process that needs a shoulder to lean on. Having close friends, relatives, and confidants that can love and support you both emotionally and physically can help you recover from the trauma.

There is a myth that depicts females as the only victims of rape. However, people of all ages, including newborns as well as both genders can be assaulted sexually. Healing fully can take a long time, but it can be achieved. Here are some of the ideas that can help a victim to recover from trauma.

  • Accept it

Accepting that you were sexually abused at a certain period is the first step towards healing. Suffering from guilt and failing to accept that it surely happened does more harm than good. Hide in your closet and cry it out. Crying reduces emotional stress.

  • Open up to a person you trust

After accepting and dealing with your personal pain, open up to a close person. It is true that a problem shared is half solved. Pouring the pain and discussing it with someone that loves you can really give you a lot of relief. This person can support and encourage you through your journey to recovery.

  • Join a support group

Support groups are formed to help rape victims recover and lead normal lives. Joining one will open your eyes and make you realize that indeed you are not the only one. You will have a chance to meet other victims and share your experiences with them. Usually, members of support groups are encouraged to freely talk about their ordeals and feelings. This is definitely what you need to get over your past.

  • Get ready for flashbacks

Awful memories are what keep rape survivors from recovering fully. It is prudent to know that you must have such flashbacks so that you can prepare to deal with them. Trauma can lead to depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Try to avoid things or situations that will make you remember what happened. For example, if you were raped in the dark, avoid darkness as much as possible. In case you flashback and your body start showing danger signs like nausea, dizziness, and fast breathing, pacify yourself by calming down and taking deep slow breaths.

In conclusion, trauma can lead to very adverse effects when not dealt with correctly. Support is all you need to recover from sexual assault. However, you need to support yourself first.

Dealing Eczema Flare-Ups

Living with eczema can sometimes feel like a bit of a battle to stay on top of the condition but in all honesty staying on top of it is really worth it though because if you have a good skincare routine and avoid triggers you can help prevent flare-ups and relieve symptoms.

What is Eczema?

The word ‘eczema’ is Greek in origin and means “to effervesce, bubble or boil over” which aptly describes the red, inflamed, itchy patches that result from flare-ups of this disease.

What Triggers Eczema?

Eczema can be triggered by any kind of irritation, not just scratching. Chemicals in your environment can trigger eczema flare-ups such as;

  • shampoos
  • shower gels
  • soaps
  • bubble baths
  • deodorants
  • sun-cream
  • perfumes
  • shaving gels
  • make-up
  • nail varnish
  • hair dye
  • hair styling
  • like gel
  • cosmetic
  • face washes
  • scrubs

Food To Avoid

Eczema sufferers wish that simple changes in their diet can get rid of eczema symptoms forever, but that little skin condition is a bit more stubborn than that. Here’s a list of common foods that may trigger an eczema flare-up and could be removed from a diet include:

  • citrus fruits
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • gluten
  • wheat
  • soy
  • spices
  • tomatoes
  • nuts (some types of nuts)

Eczema is not a curable condition, but it is a manageable condition. As an eczema sufferer, you need to be wary of the triggers that can cause skin irritation from appearing and have effective means to manage these factors. Living with eczema can be a big challenge on many levels; physically, emotionally and even financially. Life is tough enough without having skin conditions like eczema kick you from the insides