fibroid treatment drs stephenson slonim

Doctor Shares Her Personal Healthcare Journey to Educate Women About Fibroid Treatment Options

Dr. Sharisse Stephenson can relate to the millions of women worldwide whose lives are affected each day by uterine fibroids. She can especially relate to those who choose to suffer in silence after being told surgery is the only answer, because she, too, had fibroids. For her, it was a 10-year journey of pain during which she was struggling to open and operate a neurology practice while at the same time dealing with debilitating symptoms. Despite her own medical training, access to educational information, and advice from concerned colleagues, it took her nearly a decade to learn that non-surgical fibroid treatments were available.

Over 60% of the roughly 171 million women worldwide who suffer from fibroids still aren’t aware of what fibroids are and the non-surgical fibroid treatment options that exist.

At Fibroid Institute Texas, we agree with Dr. Stephenson that no woman should be misinformed or have her quality of life taken away because of uterine fibroids. That is why we were at the forefront of legislation three years ago that made Texas one of 10 states to recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month. But the reality is that while fibroid awareness has made incredible inroads in terms of education, over 60% of the roughly 171 million women worldwide who suffer from fibroids still are not aware of what fibroids are and the non-surgical fibroid treatment options that exist.

One of those treatment options is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a 60-minute procedure that changes lives. After finally learning about UFE, Dr. Stephenson trusted us to perform UFE in-office and says it helped her reclaim her life almost immediately.

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An Unnecessary 10-Year Journey With Fibroids

Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from painful periods and back pain to fatigue, constipation, infertility, and miscarriages. Although some women do not experience any symptoms, many do. And the results can be debilitating.

Dr. Stephenson said she found herself on both sides of that scenario.

Her journey started when her primary care provider noticed several fibroids during a routine wellness exam. Dr. Stephenson did not have any symptoms at the time, but her doctor suggested fibroid surgery in the form of either a hysterectomy or myomectomy. Both procedures are common and effective at fibroid removal, but Dr. Stephenson was hesitant to undergo such a complex surgery. On top of that, she didn’t like the idea that she would have to take six to eight weeks off work to recover.

“I had just opened my neurology practice, and taking time off wasn’t feasible,” she said. “So, I decided not to do anything—mainly because I didn’t have symptoms. I didn’t know there were other fibroid treatment options.”

As the years passed, these previously asymptomatic fibroids quickly turned into something debilitating. Dr. Stephenson said she could barely walk because of severe back pain, bladder issues, and anemia. She could not bend over to tie her shoes without experiencing shortness of breath. As a result, she had to take time off from work.

Dr. Sharisse Stephenson’s Fibroid Symptoms

Severe back pain
Bladder issues
Shortness of breath
Absenteeism from work due to fibroids

Dr. Stephenson’s case was not unlike most Black women, and she was terrified. After all, the rate of hospitalization for fibroids is three times higher for Black women than white women. Black women are also two to three times more likely to undergo a hysterectomy and seven times more likely to have a myomectomy — thus ending their chances of getting pregnant in the future. Complicating Dr. Stephenson’s case was that she had developed anemia, a common blood disorder fibroids can cause due to excessive blood loss. Many women with fibroids do not realize they are anemic, but there are telltale symptoms, including excessive fatigue and loss of energy, dizziness, cold hands and feet, and chest pain.

fibroid treatment pain tired woman

Here are a few more interesting facts about uterine fibroids and Black women:

  • Black women are diagnosed at a younger age (between 29 and 39)
  • More often, patients have larger and multiple fibroids
  • Their fibroids display faster growth
  • Their fibroids shrink slower after pregnancy (fibroids in white women shrink faster)
  • They feel more severe fibroid symptoms (heavy bleeding, prolonged periods, cramping, etc.)
  • More Black women have surgery at an earlier age (many times during childbearing years)
  • They experience more complications during surgery
  • Black women are 2.4 times more likely to undergo hysterectomy

At her wit’s end, Dr. Stephenson relented and began speaking with several doctors about surgical options. However, several of those doctors were uncomfortable with performing surgery due to the size of her fibroids. That is when one of the surgeons referred her to the Fibroid Institute.

Dr. Stephenson Reclaimed Her Life With an Alternative Fibroid Treatment Option

One of the beautiful aspects of Dr. Stephenson’s story is that she knew what she was experiencing was not normal and did not stop looking for alternative ways to reclaim her life. Furthermore, her story proves that fibroids can impact anyone, and even doctors can be unaware of their fibroid treatment options. Unfortunately, far too many women are either unaware they have fibroids, are hesitant to report and normalize their symptoms as part of being a woman, or do not have access to adequate information or treatment. Most of this is a lack of dialogue and misinformation that has existed for many years and impacted women from all walks of life.

Fibroid Awareness Month was created to draw attention to uterine fibroids, give women access to fibroid treatment alternatives and education, and push for more adequate funding levels. Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., South Carolina, and Virginia now recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month. Our own Dr. Suzanne Slonim, founder and medical director of the Fibroid Institute, was at the center of the push to get Texas legislative members to step up and join the cause. The hope is to have Fibroid Awareness Month observed at a national level so that more women can be supported and cared for while at the same time understanding their condition and gaining confidence from the start.

Dr. Stephenson finally experienced her confidence boost when she met with Dr. Slonim. Ten years had passed, but after looking at just one MRI, Dr. Slonim told Dr. Stephenson she could help her.

“When she told me that, I wanted to cry,” she said. “I was so grateful that I finally found help.”

Help came in the form of UFE, a highly effective non-surgical treatment option where an experienced interventional radiologist inserts a small catheter into the radial artery and advances it to the location of the targeted area. They then inject small particles to block blood flow to the fibroid tumors, causing fibroids to shrink and die.

fibroid removal options for several uterine fibroids UFE illustration

Additional advantages of UFE at Fibroid Institute

  • Alternative to surgery
  • Shorter recovery period, 7 days in most cases
  • No scarring
  • Fibroid symptoms improve dramatically
  • No hospital stay
  • Future pregnancy possible
  • Tiny wrist puncture, no need for vaginal access
  • All fibroids may be treated at the same time
  • Five-star doctors as rated by patient reviews
  • Mobile number given to every UFE patient to contact her doctor directly

Wondering “is UFE right for me?”

Download a free checklist to see if you are a candidate for fibroid treatment without surgery.

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Dr. Stephenson noticed immediate benefits after the procedure.

“In just one hour, everything was fixed,” she said. “I could bend down to put on my slippers without getting out of breath; I couldn’t believe it. Dr. Slonim told me to take it easy for a few days, but when you’re suffering for so long and can now move and breathe, it’s hard not to move around more. I felt great when I went home — I walked the dog, did housework, and only took one pain pill. I felt better than I had in years.”

Dr. Stephenson added, “I feel very strongly that women need to know this is a treatment option. I am a physician with plenty of [healthcare] experience, and even I didn’t know UFE was an option. I just suffered and suffered for years.”

 “I feel very strongly that women need to know this is a treatment option. I am a physician with plenty of [healthcare] experience, and even I didn’t know UFE was an option. I just suffered and suffered for years.” – patient Dr. Sharisse Stephenson

Read more about Fibroid Institute’s highly specific formula that helps patients experience little to no pain after UFE when they follow the recommended medicine chart from our fibroid doctors.

Don’t Live With Uterine Fibroids. Visit Our 100% Fibroid-Focused Practice.

At Fibroid Institute, we are dedicated to educating and empowering women on fibroid treatment options. With multiple locations, our Dallas and Houston fibroid clinics help thousands of women avoid fibroid surgery and find relief from their fibroid symptoms. Our fibroid doctors are board-certified interventional radiologists and experts passionate about helping women become #FibroidFree. Dr. Suzanne Slonim, Dr. John Fischer, and Dr. Danny Chan are highly experienced UFE specialists.

Request a free 10-15 minute phone screening to determine if you are eligible. After the screening, if you qualify for UFE, you can schedule your onsite or telehealth consultation. Most major medical insurance providers cover the cost of UFE. We are dedicated to helping you become #FibroidFree. Get started now with Fibroid Institute Dallas at 214-838-6440 or with Fibroid Institute Houston at 713-903-3733 or complete the form below.

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Fibroid Institute Texas serves the Dallas and Houston areas including Texas City, Cypress, League City, Bellaire, Addison, Carrollton, Plano, Frisco, Craig Ranch, McKinney, Allen, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, HEB, Arlington, Euless, Hutchins, Irving, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Garland, Mesquite, Richardson, Dallas, Sherman, Houston, Sugar Land, Katy, Webster, Clear Lake, The Woodlands, Universal City, Spring, Kingwood, Stafford, Conroe, and more.

*Patient names and/or photos may be changed to protect patient confidentiality.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or if you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.

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