Hormel — who also searched the Internet for alternatives — seized on embolization, a relatively new procedure that involves threading a catheter into the uterine artery so tiny particles can be injected to block the blood supply to the fibroids.
The procedure involves a local anesthetic and one-night hospital stay and recovery is about two weeks.
"Many gynecologists don't offer it because they have no personal experience with it, or because it involves a different medical specialty (radiology)," said Dr. Spies. "In medicine, we tend to run in tribes, all reading our own sets of journals, so a new procedure by another specialty can easily get overlooked."
Hormel realized there was a chance her fibroids might grow back, but she was determined to try and avoid what her mother had experienced.
"It wasn't painful. There was a little cramping — but now I have normal periods. I have my life back...I'm so glad I did my homework."
Hormel's advice for other women: "Ask questions. If you don't understand something the doctor says, just question it. If you don't feel it's right, ask if there are other options. Do your reading, get on the Internet, and ask your doctor everything on your mind."
Carla Dionne also had a successful embolization. "I had tremendous shrinkage — and a tremendous change in my life," she said. "I get five hours sleep now. I have energy. No more bleeding — not even a fraction of what it was. No horrific cramps. I lost almost 50 pounds without even trying."
Dionne was so affected by what happened to her that she started a support group and Website, www.uterinefibroids.com, to share information and experiences. "It turns out there's a lot doctors don't tell you, and with my support group I hear about it every day. I just want other women to know."