Women May Be Unaware of Painful Disorder That Prolongs Heavy Menstrual Bleeding and a Procedure That Treats It

Many Women May Be Unaware of a Painful Disorder That Prolongs Heavy Menstrual Bleeding and a Procedure That Treats It

July is National Minority Health

William H. Julien, M.D. treats a uterine fibroid patient at South Florida Vascular Associates in Coconut Creek.
William H. Julien, M.D. treats a uterine fibroid patient at South Florida Vascular Associates in Coconut Creek.

“The excessive bleeding and severe cramps were unbearable,” said Mavornees Berry-Smith, of Boca Raton. “For years, I fought through it, thinking it was normal. I was ecstatic when my gynecologist in Boca Raton explained the reason and recommended I be examined by a vascular and interventional radiology specialist in Boynton Beach.”

The doctor, double-board certified William H. Julien, M.D., diagnosed Berry-Smith with uterine fibroids and successfully treated her with Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Dr. Julien is the medical director at South Florida Vascular Associates, an endovascular practice in Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach, and Plantation. “Many South Florida women are unaware of this medical condition and are needlessly suffering from uterine fibroids,” he said. “And many have no idea this highly effective, non-surgical UFE treatment is available.”

Symptoms of uterine fibroids may include an extended duration of heavy menstrual bleeding, often-agonizing pain, fatigue, and more. UFE has been shown to relieve uterine fibroid symptoms in 90% of women treated. The endovascular procedure is an alternative to a hysterectomy or myomectomy. UFE patients can avoid the hospital and spend the night at home.

Uterine fibroids are benign, non-cancerous growths found in or on uterus walls. They can range from less than an inch to more than six inches in diameter. Most cause no symptoms and are discovered only after a routine pelvic exam. Even then, only about one-third are large enough to be detected.

According to Dr. Julien, all women are at risk of developing uterine fibroids. The growths typically form between ages 30 and 40, though they may develop in women in their twenties. By age 50, between 70% and 80% of women will have had fibroids. Those with a family history of uterine fibroids and African-American women have the highest risk of developing them. African-American women have the highest risk of any racial group. “July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Uterine fibroids often cause great stress, so this month is perfect to tell your friends and family,” said Dr. Julien.

“It’s important that we spread the word about fibroids. Women need to know this terrible disorder exists and that this outstanding treatment is available,” said Berry-Smith, the Boca Raton patient.

“For most women, Uterine Fibroid Embolization is life-changing,” said Dr. Julien, who has 30 years’ experience and is president of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society, a national organization.

“I didn’t know what was happening to my body,” said Latoria Sheppard, 41, of Pompano Beach. “I was always bleeding a lot during intimacy. I knew something was wrong. I visited my gynecologist, who referred me to Dr. Julien in Coconut Creek. He explained all I needed to know about uterine fibroids and how to treat them. I couldn’t be happier with Dr. Julien’s results and I was able to save my uterus.”

Dr. Julien explains the UFE procedure, which he performs in Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach, and Plantation: “We make a tiny nick in the groin area, then insert a catheter into the femoral artery. Using x-ray imaging, the catheter is guided into the arteries that supply blood to the uterus. We then inject tiny particles—the size of sand grains—into the uterine arteries to block blood flow to the fibroid. By blocking the blood flow, we’re able to shrink or destroy the fibroids.”

Following the procedure, many women can resume light activities in a few days, and the majority can return to their normal activities within ten days. Recovery is fast.

Fibroid symptoms may include:

  •     heavy, prolonged monthly periods, sometimes with clots,
  •     fatigue, secondary to a low blood count,
  •     pain or pressure between the hip bones or in the back of the legs,
  •     pain during intercourse,
  •     frequent need to urinate,
  •     constipation or bloating, and
  •     an enlarged belly.