When Genene Aiken’s heavy periods and painful cramping began to affect her ability to live comfortably, she didn’t know something much greater than an inconvenience was happening inside her body. When the St. Helena Island resident shared how much pain she was in with a friend, her friend suggested the problem could be fibroids.
“When she said that I thought there’s no way I have fibroids,” Genene laughed and then added wryly. “When I went to see the doctor, they found five of them.
|When the pain from fibroid tumors became unbearable, Genene Aiken knew the answer was surgery.|
Fibroids form when muscle cells create a fibrous knot in or on the uterus. They often occur between ages 30 and 40 with African-American women at the greatest risk developing them. Some research even points to a potential genetic issue that means the painful condition frequently passes from mother to daughter. While the majority are benign, fibroids are often the source of excruciating pain.
Beaufort resident Tina McGhee credits the discovery of her fibroids to a hunch. “I had more pain than normal, longer periods which were very unusual, and other symptoms,” Tina said. “I would hurt so much I couldn’t play with my grandchildren. When I went to the doctor, they did tests and found the fibroids. They basically came out of nowhere.”
Just like Genene and Tina, many women with fibroids are unaware they have them. Red flags can include anemia, backache, lower abdominal discomfort or swelling, heavy painful periods and painful sex. For both women, the answer to the troubling problem was hysterectomy. What’s new about hysterectomy is that, at Beaufort Memorial, surgeons can use robotic technology for the procedure. It’s advanced technology that barely leaves any scar and dramatically eases post-surgical recovery.
When Genene found out about da Vinci surgery she was thrilled. “The robotic surgery meant I’d just be in the hospital over night. I could go home the next day.”
For Tina, an even more minimally invasive procedure — single site hysterectomy — solved her pain and eliminated her fibroids for good. “With this procedure, they went in through my navel so there weren’t any incisions anywhere,” she said.