When Fibroids Affect Fertility: Kandi Burruss And Gessie Thompson Share Their Stories

September 30, 2015  |  

Splash News

At the top of the year, Kandi Burruss decided to try her hand at the in-vitro fertilization process. The reality star has been quite vocal in the past regarding her desire to have another child. At 38 years old, she was ready to take the next major step with her new husband, Todd Tucker. Prior to exploring alternative options such as IVF and IVI, the couple tried to conceive the old fashioned way, but after nearly two years of unprotected sex with no success, they sought medical attention.

“We weren’t trying to prevent it for a couple of years, and nothing was happening,” Burruss told Madame Noire of their pre-IVF experience. “You know how you kind of hope that you’ll do it on your own, luck up, and it just happens?”

Testing eventually revealed the source of the problem: a uterine fibroid.

“We realized I had a fibroid—a big one—inside the cavity of the uterus where your baby would implant,” said the reality star.

WebMD defines uterine fibroids as the most common “benign lumps” (or tumors) that “grow on the uterus” and in some cases, these growths can cause complications with conception. Thankfully, if needed, these tumors can be surgically removed. And if no other causes of infertility are evident and all goes well, meaning no other complications are present, the couple should be able to conceive. Burruss underwent surgery to get rid of the fibroid in the cavity of her uterus, and somewhere between one and two months later, opted to try in-vitro fertilization to increase their chances of conceiving.

“We decided to do IVF because this is my last year in my 30s, and I wasn’t trying to keep trying without any results or whatever. We decided to go for it with the IVF treatments. We started in February/March.”

The singer’s first IVF attempt was a success. She’s currently 24 weeks pregnant.

“Luckily for us, it was a blessing, and we actually had success with the first IVF treatment,” said Burruss. “It takes a couple of months for you to go through the whole process of injections, retrieving the eggs and all of that stuff, then allowing them to put them back in and praying that they take. One of our eggs took.”

Courtesy of Gessie Thomspon

Identifying fibroids as a possible source of infertility is half the battle for a percentage of women living with the benign growths, but for others, it’s merely the beginning. For some, the fight against fibroids can be a trying, emotionally draining and painful process, and in rare cases, fibroids can grow back rapidly, drastically hindering chances of conception.

“I work with my clients to navigate the spiritual and emotional hurdles they encounter as they journey through fibroids and infertility. Such as bitterness, hopelessness, broken self-worth, jealousy, grief, relational disconnects and even depression,” said fertility coach Gessie Thompson. “We work to develop and execute the right action plan for them.”

Thompson authored Hope Beyond Fibroids: Stories of Miracle Babies & the Journey to Motherhood in hopes of inspiring others after experiencing her own 10-year battle with infertility.  She went through a total of 10 surgeries, five IVF cycles, one miscarriage and more than 100 days spent in the hospital.

“I first discovered I had fibroids in 2001 because I wasn’t getting pregnant when my husband and I decided it was time to expand our family. And, I kept having to fight those fibroids in my 10-year journey as they came back every three to five years–enduring a total of five fibroids surgeries,” said Thompson. “Each surgery brought more complications, including additional major surgeries and severe scarring that restricted my options for getting pregnant to IVF.”

“I felt helpless, powerless and to some degree emasculated watching her go through this process,” admits her husband, Marc Thompson. “I also felt awe, wonder, deep love, and appreciation that she would go through it for the sake of our family dream. It was a roller coaster of emotions almost hourly and definitely daily.”

The couple eventually did conceive, and on September 8, 2011, Thompson gave birth to 2.5-pound baby girl—but even that victory came with challenges.

“When I did finally get pregnant with my daughter, she had to the fight fibroids that remained in my womb for her very life because they were siphoning off the blood flow to her–restricting her growth.”

The couple’s miracle baby was delivered early, by C-section, but Thompson’s heart stopped on the operating table.

“I knew something was wrong when they asked me to leave the delivery room. Gessie had just told them she felt cold and dizzy… I had no idea that she was approaching ‘death’s door’ literally with her heart stopping for six seconds,” Thompson’s husband recalled.

Marc Thompson, Gessie Thompson and Nia Thompson | Courtesy of Gessie Thompson

Doctors were able to revive the then mom-to-be. Her baby girl, Nia, celebrated her 4th birthday this month. Thompson put an end to her personal battle with fibroids when she underwent a hysterectomy following Nia’s birth, but she still champions for other women plagued by the sometimes troubling condition.

“I am a board member of the 501c3 non-profit The White Dress Project for uterine fibroids awareness and research. We wear white to empower the women suffering in silence with fibroids. They don’t wear white because of the fear and shame rooted in the epidemic associated with heavy bleeding, bloating and more. Awareness and education are the first steps in creating a platform to address the issue of fibroids and legislation is key.”

While some fibroid cases can have a negative impact on reproduction and fertility, having them does not guarantee that one will have issues conceiving. In fact, plenty of women living with fibroids go on to conceive without issue.

“Up to 80% of African American females have fibroids, so obviously, they are very common in our population; however, they do not always hinder pregnancies,” said women’s health expert and gynecologist, Dr. Jessica Shepherd. “Gessie’s story is exceptional but the good news for women is that if you have a fibroid, it does not mean that you can’t get pregnant.”

“The issue with fibroids and pregnancy is location, ” she said.  “When they are in the cavity of the uterus, they can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, or they can increase the risk of a miscarriage. Or, if you do have implantation and do have a pregnancy, it can increase your risk of preterm labor. There are women who can have fibroids in the cavity who don’t have these problems and carry the baby to full term. One of the options to remove fibroids in the cavity of the uterus is by a hysteroscopic myomectomy and can be done with a tissue removal system such as MyoSure.”

Dr. Shepherd also discouraged fibroid hysteria.

“Without the correct information, some women can go off on a tangent thinking they can’t get pregnant, but that’s not always the case,” said Shepherd. “There are fibroids that are not symptomatic, and there are fibroids that are, so we have to make sure that we put them in the proper category before we start sending out red alerts.”

To learn more about Gessie Thompson, Hope Beyond Fibroids and the White Dress Project, head over to www.hopebeyondfibroids.com.

To get more information on fibroids, visit www.herviewpoint.com and join Dr. Shepherd’s followers on Twitter and Facebook at JShepherd_MD and www.Facebook.com/Herviewpointcommunity.

To learn more information on hysteroscopic myomectomies, head over to www.Myosure.com and Facebook for ChangeTheCycle.

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  • Learning about the causes of infertility can save us from many consequences, helping us to seek a suitable fertility treatment ever. IVF treatment is vital and conveys successful pregnancies in its time. Highly appreciable.

  • Learning about the causes of infertility can save us from many consequences, helping us to seek a suitable fertility treatment ever. IVF treatment is vital and conveys successful pregnancies in its time. Highly appreciable.

  • Tsipi Joseph

    Having fibroids that prevent you from getting pregnant can
    be very frustrating. It’s important to note that there is a noninvasive
    treatment for uterine fibroids that’s called MR guided Focused Ultrasound. It’s
    preserves your uterus, has been around since 2004, and is FDA approved, even
    for women who plan future pregnancies. You can learn more about it here: http://www.uterine-fibroids.org/

  • Jennie Vargas

    People need more individuals like them for support. Not everyone are open to discussing infertility. I don’t have fibroids bu I didn’t have a regular period when we were trying, conceiveeasy helped my cycle regulate.

  • Lacyk

    I had fibroid’s. At the age of 34 my husband and I decided we wanted another child (our oldest was 16 already). We had not been trying or preventing it through the years – it just never happened. Eventually we began to make a conscience effort to get pregnant to no avail. Finally I went to the doctor and was told that I had a lot fibroid’s! They (and I) did everything they/we could to shrink them without surgery. Eventually I had to have a myomectomy in May 2002. After the myomectomy I was told that I had a total of 9 fibroid’s – 1 of them was the size of a 16 week fetus. It put a hole in my uterus. We conceived our son 2 months days later. Unfortunately because of the amount and size of the fibroid’s I had, I had to have a c-section because going into labor could have ruptured my uterus. We gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2003. I eventually had a partial hysterectomy 1 year later. They are no joke. I bleed a lot and remembered eating trays upon trays of ice. The doctor told me that something in the crunching was connected to women that had fibroid’s. It was a long time ago and do not remember the exact connection. I did try healthy steps, changed my diet and everything. I did try Dr. Sebi but it did not work for me.

  • Guest

    I heard there’s a correlation between fibroids and hair relaxers….look into that.

  • Msangee

    LI have a ton of fibroids and I mean a ton! Big, small, you name it. So many that ultrasound techs stop measuring after about 30 minutes because there are too many and it would be all day trying to measure them all if they even could because they usually can’t keep up with what they already measured and which ones they haven’t.

    I carried my baby to term and he absolutely did not run out of any space and I did not have any issues with him being restricted.

    I did have a myomectomy in 2008 at the age of 36 and they did grow back with a vengeance. I unexpectantly got pregnant TWICE after 40, once at 40 and again one year later so there’s ALWAYS hope to the lady who says she’s 31 and unmarried with no kids. I had never been pregnant prior to my pregnancies after the age of 40

    • scared

      I’m giving you ladies the tightest hugs ever !!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story !

    • esh

      so good to hear.

    • Gessie Thompson

      I’m thrilled for you that you were able to have your babies without complications from the #FIBROIDS! In my case, I had to have a myomectomy from the onset of their discovery because they were causing infertility and came back more aggressively over and over requiring me to undergo five #FIBROID surgeries–including three open myomectomies (one horizontal and two vertical), one Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) and most recently an open hysterectomy.

      My concern for women suffering from fibroids that are causing them excessive bleeding and growing rapidly is that they can result in severe anemia–that is very dangerous and can even cause heart failure–as well as severe incontinence, infertility, miscarriages, severe back pain, painful intercourse, spontaneous breakthrough bleeding…and so much more.

      My desire is that women will be inspired, empowered and educated concerning their options. It’s important to know the right questions to ask your GYN to find out if he or she is the right one for your case. That’s why I developed the “Is My Gynecologist the Right One for Me? screener. Sign up at my website http://www.HopeBeyondFibroids.com to receive it as a free download and to also learn about all the other resources we have to support women battling fibroids and infertility–including our “Circle of Hope Prayer Call,” which takes place this Saturday at 8AM EST.

      Your HOPE sister,
      Gessie Thompson
      Bestselling Author, HOPE BEYOND FIBROIDS, Fertility Coach & Fibroids Awareness Advocate

  • I have a fibroid and I’m pregnant, ladies don’t give up if you have them, eat healthy, drink plenty of pure water, take your herbs ( I like new body herbs) and the most fun part try try try! Good luck!

    * I wanted to add that they seem to run in the family, my mom had them bad and my sister has them bad too so if your family has them and your having problems conceiving you may have them too. Just a heads up.

    • scared

      I just had surgery to remove 6. I’m 31, single, and terrified I won’t be able to have children. No one knows my fears. Your comment put me at ease, thank you !

      • You’re welcome, don’t be afraid, you’ve already been through the hard part of getting them removed!

      • esh

        my sister had some and she has four kids now (a 6yr old and a set of trips with help.)

      • Lacyk

        I am sure it is fearful but don’t give up. All is not lost. We are women – we can handle anything! Sending prayers your way.

    • esh

      that is good to hear. i have had two surgeries thus far to remove them and am having trouble getting preg. but it its in the Lord’s plan it will happen.

      • It will! I don’t want to be too graphic but We ramped up our sex life a lot to get preggo like to when we first met a lot- it was harder with our schedules but that’s what worked for us.

    • Guestest

      Congrats on your pregnancy!

      • thanks mama 😀

        • Guestest

          You’re welcome!

  • PeoplePlease7

    Sisters could check into Dr. Sebi and Dr. Ali Muhammad before relying solely on ‘official’ medical advice. There are some practical healthier steps you can take to minimize your risk of fibroids (and a host of other ailments) by altering your diet and lifestyle. They also address how your diet should reflect your ethnicity and melanin content as well.