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Nicole the Fertile Chick: Trying to Conceive with Fibroids

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The first time I heard about fibroids was in March 1996, when my childhood icon, May Mofe-Damijo (nee Ellen-Ezekiel) died from complications related to fibroid surgery. There were so many theories surrounding her death, some to do with the clinical care she had received, and others to do with the condition itself. To my 19 year old brain, it was an ailment just as menacing as cancer, to have taken out my beloved MEE just like that. It didn’t help that after her death, I started hearing about more and more of these cases, almost all of which didn’t have happy endings.

Two years later, it knocked on my family door, with my mother also having to have fibroid surgery. In the weeks leading to her surgery, I was a total mess. I couldn’t eat, sleep, read, nothing. My grades took a nosedive, as I was so worried about what the outcome would be. Thankfully, her surgery went well. But as she had a hysterectomy, with her entire uterus removed, she had to deal with the onslaught of premature menopause…which was no fun for her at all! But we were so grateful she was alive that it didn’t really matter. As the years went by, the good news was that the fatalities from fibroid removal surgeries were no longer as high, but the bad news was that it was affecting more and more people, in progressively younger age groups.

In early 2006, I started having very mild, intermittent uterine cramping. By mid-2007, during a routine hospital visit, it was confirmed that I had fibroids. In a previous article, I talked about the insensitive Doctor that attended to me, who “advised” me to hasten my childbearing. But the irony is that I was very single at the time. For days after that hospital visit, I was so depressed. My fibroids were my rising and sleeping thought. I did not share the news with anyone, not even my Mother, whom I knew would not take the news well. After about a month, I made the decision to push it to the very back of my mind, and proceeded to live in denial.

Shortly after that, I started dating my husband, and we were engaged very shortly after. Alas, no sooner had I started the wedding preps, the uterine cramping resumed in full force, with even more intensity this time. It got so bad that I made the decision to have the fibroids removed. I proceeded to share the news with my family and fiancé, and they reluctantly agreed for me to proceed with the surgery. When I opened my eyes after the procedure, I was so overwhelmed with relief to be alive, and that I didn’t have to live with my unwanted tenants anymore.

I thought the worst was over, until a friend who came to visit whilst I was recuperating asked what I was doing to manage my scar tissue. Scar what?? I’d never even contemplated that. I proceeded to ask my doctor about it, and he said that it was a possibility. He explained that surgical incisions, like most other wounds, could heal well or could form keloids. He also informed me about the possibility of adhesions. I decided to brush these off, with a quick prayer of how this would never be my portion!

Fast-forward 6 months later, I got married. Fast-forward 18 months after that, I had a laparoscopy to find out why we still had not conceived. It was discovered that I, in fact, had developed some scar tissue and adhesions. My doctor was able to clear a good number of these adhesions, but my left fallopian tube remained blocked. The blockage could most likely have been as a result of the adhesions, or probably not. There was no way to know for sure.
But not all fibroid surgeries have had the kind of outcome mine did. My friend’s older sister who had a football sized fibroid removed a few months to her wedding, literally conceived on her wedding night! And she has gone on to have successful pregnancies after that.

Basically, at the time I had my fibroid surgery, I thought it was something I HAD to do, if I wanted to be able to conceive. I have since learnt that this is not the case, as my fibroids were all outside my uterus. When I eventually got pregnant, 3 of my closest friends were also expecting….2 of whom had large fibroids. Even though they had to be closely managed, they both carried their pregnancies to term, had successful deliveries, and have gone on to have more babies afterwards. As I write, neither of them have removed their fibroids.

That said, I know that the location of these fibroids is a huge determining factor. Subserosal fibroids typically grow on the outer uterine wall, so could likely not interfere with conception. However, other types of fibroids such as Intramural (which develop within the uterine wall), Submucosal (which develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity), or even Pedunculated (which grow on stalks, both in and outside the uterine cavity), could affect conception. Thus, having them removed is not an option, but a requirement.

The good news is the emergence of less invasive means to have these fibroids removed. These options include hysteroscopic resections (whereby a thin telescope, called a hysteroscope, and a number of small surgical instruments, are used to remove fibroids through the vagina, so no incisions are needed), uterine artery embolisation (which involves blocking the blood vessels that supply the fibroids, causing them to shrink), MRI-guided procedures (which use an MRI to guide small needles to the centre of the fibroid, and destroy it with laser or ultrasound energy), etc. The better news is that most of these options are available here in Nigeria. Basically, you get the advantage of having the fibroid(s) removed, without having to face the risk of scar tissue. That’s called eating your cake and having it, if you ask me.

I am also a huge proponent of alternative methods of, if not removing, managing fibroids. There are some good herbal medical practitioners out there who are able to whip up some great stuff. My belief in these methods is bourne from the fact that fibroids, at the end of the day, are a result of hormonal imbalance. When there is an excess of estrogen, usually hand-in-hand with an absence of progesterone, the uterine lining can grow undetected, leading to the growth of fibroids. Some herbs are able to help control this imbalance and, even if they do not eliminate them, could control their size and regrowth. But, please, please, please! Buyer beware!!! You need to be extra sure of the herbal medical practitioner you patronize. Some of them are outright criminals, and some of them are….well, spiritually suspect.

Some of these alternative methods are eyebrow raising, to say the very least. I was recently told about one “Baba” somewhere in Ijesha, who, after consulting with the Patient, would prepare a special concoction (specific only for this Patient), and insert said concoction in the Patient’s uterus. The Patient would then go home, writhe in pain for a day or two, and subsequently deliver the fibroid(s) through her vagina. I was supposed to pass on this tidbit of information to a friend, but I was speechless for like an hour after I was told. I was like huh???!!! First of all, he would insert what where?? And then she would deliver what from where??? Ah! That one was too much for me oh! I did my bit and passed on the information to my friend, who was equally aghast! Needless to say, she didn’t call the guy. I’m not knocking this method….and I’m sure it has worked for more than a few. But for my friend and I, it was not even an option.

In summary, if you have uterine fibroids, if they are not precariously located, and are not affecting your life (with respect to discomfort and period frequency), you might want to have a long chat with your doctor about waiting a while before/if you remove them. But, if you do have to remove them, in addition to the conventional surgical methods (which come with the possibility of scar tissue), there are less invasive removal methods, which are just as effective.
And if managing the fibroids is your preference, there are a lot of herbal solutions that have been proven to help with these….but to be chosen with caution.

The bottom line is that they are not the death sentence or fertility thief that they were considered only a few years ago. Yes, there are the few who are less lucky, but with the right management and treatment, you’ll be fine!
Good luck!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

27 Comments

  1. chique

    January 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Very nice and eye opening! I’m looking forward to an expository like this on IVF. Or have I missed it?

    • Nicole

      January 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks, chique. You can check out an article from about a month ago, i.e. “Letter to the IVF Newbie” (bellanaija.com/2014/11/17/nicole-the-fertile-chick-letter-to-the-ivf-newbie/)

  2. honest one

    January 12, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Thank you so much. this has been very informative. Good job

  3. southernbelle

    January 12, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Please i want to know more about ovarian cyst and thick lining of the womb

    • Duchesse D'Ilford

      January 12, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      The Internet and especially some very credible medical sites can give you a wealth of information on what you seek and is often times corroborated by the medical practitioners around you. However,while everything on the internet may not necessarily be fact, often times the consistency of information as well as alot of personal opinions of those who have gone through the same journey and the responses you receive from the medical practitioners around you should give you the answers you seek.

    • Nicole

      January 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Hi southern belle. Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacks that could be harmless….or troublesome, depending on the time. As for the lining of the womb, it varies depending on where you are in your cycle. Just after your period, it is at its thinnest, and it is at its thickest at the end of your cycle, or after successful implantation of an embryo. BUT, a thick womb lining could also be an indication of something serious…..so you definitely need to speak with your Ob/Gyn to rule anything out. Good luck!

  4. Ada Nnewi

    January 12, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Very Informative! Thanks a lot!

  5. asy

    January 12, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    I am so scared of the alternative method because of the spiritual angle. If my grand mother was still alive, she would have prepared it for me. I will be going for Hysteroscopy later this month and fingers crossed the fibroid won’t be in the uterus.

    • Nicole

      January 12, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      I know what you mean asy. I try not to be superstitious but you never really know. The one I swear by is packaged and even has a NAFDAC number, so no random “baba” for me either. Good luck with your hysteroscopy!

    • Lucy

      January 14, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Plans what is the nam of the herbal option and where is it sold please?thank you

    • Nicole

      January 14, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Hi Lucy. I don’t think I can disclose that here, but if you shoot me an email ([email protected]), I’ll gladly share the information.

  6. sop25

    January 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    My 28 years old sister is having problem with fibroid she does not want to do surgery….d size of her tommy is increasing

    • Nicole

      January 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Hi sop25. If it is causing her discomfort, it is best she immediately has a discussion with her Ob/Gyn about what to do. The size and/or location will determine.

  7. Moi

    January 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Good write up. I also have fibroid, this was diagnosed some two years earlier before I got married last year. I had extremely painful periods, a week before and a week after the periods, I’ll be in pain and then several on and off severe pains outside period.
    All the gynees I visited before my marriage suggested I get married and start having children. No one mentioned that because of the location of the fibroid, I would suffer severe pain during pregnancy.

    Fast-forward 3 months into my marriage, I got pregnant and was happy because I was scared it may not happen. 3 months into the pregnancy, the most extreme of pains began and the doctor said to expect this exact pain especially in the second trimester as the baby will in his explanation be fighting for space with the rapidly growing fibroid ( the fibroid is now soo big I can feel it depending on how am lying down}. This pain was initially only calmed with drugs, then it progressed to injections and then admissions in the hospital because you cant do anything when the pain starts and the injection knocks you out immediately.

    Before the last admission, I met a new gynee who I termed callous cos of the way he spoke to a woman writing in pains but was frank enough to ask me “dint you know you had fibroid before getting pregnant or no one advised you”. That was a hint to let me know I should have removed it cos of where it is growing.

    I have just entered my third trimester and the pain has not come back since the last admission in the hospital but the truth is, I honestly don’t think I want to have another baby with this fibroid, I just have to remove it so I can have my sanity and pain- free pregnancy as that has been the only challenge since my pregnancy.

    My advice to every woman hoping to have children with it is to be sure where it is positioned before you settle to start making babies cos the doctors may not tell you but the pain is inexplicable. They tell you “its too small to be removed, just have kids”. Please be sure where it is growing.

    God help us all. Amen.

    • Nicole

      January 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you so much for this, Moi! You’re very correct! That was one of the selling points my doctor made when he was trying to convince me to remove them. My two friends who carried pregnancies with their fibroids complained of mild discomfort, but I guess it differs for everyone. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, and congrats in advance!

  8. nameless

    January 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Very inept discussion, and great timing too. Does anyone know about ‘Fibroidclear’, I saw a few good reviews and thought i might try it. they say it shrinks the fibroid. Please, does anyone know for sure. It’s an actual pharmaceutical drug produced somewhere in Jand and available in Nigeria. I’m wary of taking drugs,but I like the idea of what it does. Does anyone have a testament to it, good or bad? thanks

  9. nameless

    January 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    vey apt jare. pardon me pls

  10. nameless

    January 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Very apt I mean, please pardon me

  11. jcsgrl

    January 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Hmnn story of my life. Just found out this weekend that my fibroid are back within 2 years of having them removed. I just weak! I don’t even know where to begin…itz well

  12. mrs chidukane

    January 12, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Fibroid pain is pregnancy is not easy oh. The injections and drugs to take, whew! I just thank God that after everything you carry your baby. The rate at which fibroid is affecting young women is so alarming. Something needs to be done. What discouraged me from the surgery is the scar tissue and also the possibility that the fibroid may regrow. If not, I think surgery is the way to go.

  13. Tamia

    January 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Please do not insert any herbal solution hoping it will flush out the fibroid, you will be wasting ur money and gambling with ur health. I am even surprise to see this option talked about here on bela. If it was possible no one will have surgery. I have fibroid and my doctor said it will get big if you gain weight, it is like the fat in ur body, the only ways to reduce them is to exercise and eat health, less sugar, less fat will do the trick. For the period pain, drink lots of water before it start and during plus stay away from sugar. Once the period starts having ground fresh ginger in hot water all day will calm u, it acts as a pain killer, It has worked well for me. I still have a heavy flow but I am pain free for the last 2 years.

  14. Alove

    January 13, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Fibroid, smh..the thief take steals smiles away from women, the thief that steals joy away from women. daris God oo, the good thing is that it isn’t the end of the world when you are diagnosed with fibroid, there is hope for women with fibroid. but i wish medical personnel’s would take it serious and find other treatments for it that won’t rob ‘some’women of a chance to be mothers. God help us all

  15. Olamide

    January 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you so much Nicole. I pray more women will go through this beutiful piece. God bless you.

  16. Bola

    January 14, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Ladies, I heard about this 5 or 6 years ago. Havent relaxed my hair since. So for me, natural hair is not a trend, its for my health.

    fibroids.com/blog/newsletters/792-do-hair-relaxers-cause-fibroids-in-black-women

  17. Shaunes Richardson

    January 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Sure, would like the formula that was given to birth that tumor out of the lady. Getting surgery is risky and they know about or over half the people sign that paperwork don’t agree to it or understand it .

  18. kate

    March 2, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I am 35 years old and I was diagnosed with poor ovarian reserve and very bad prognosis of having a baby with my own eggs. I was even given the option to consider donor eggs. That was around july 2014. I was absolutely devastated with the news and I arranged an IVF for November 2014 and it failed also, given that I had nothing to lose, I contacted on facebook (Oduduwa Ajakaye) and he send me his herbal product,. Believe it or not… I am already pregnant!

  19. Chibuzo

    December 7, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    please Kate what is Oduduwa’s contact details. please send it to 08033889416. thanks

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