Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat symptomatic fibroids. Uterine fibroids are an overgrowth of muscular and fibrous tissues, typically developing in the walls of the uterus. These benign tumors are also known as uterine myomas or leiomyomas. In the U.S., between 70-80 percent of women will develop fibroids by the age of 50. While some women don’t experience any pain at all, other women are forced to tolerate uncomfortable symptoms such as, excessive and prolonged menstrual bleeding, intense cramping, anemia causing fatigue, constipation, bloating, and pain during sex. According to the National Institute of Health, over 200,000 hysterectomies are performed every year to eliminate fibroid and fibroid symptoms; however, invasive surgeries are not the only option. Many women who are diagnosed with fibroids are unaware of the non-surgical alternatives that are out on the market today. Women typically receive two options when it comes to fibroid treatment: hysterectomy or myomectomy, both invasive surgical procedures. Not only do invasive surgeries require an expensive hospital stay, but they also require a longer recovery period as well. Every year, more women choose minimally invasive procedures like UFE for its immediate benefits: no hospital stay, no scarring, no interference with hormones, shorter recovery, outpatient, preserves the uterus, and relieves symptoms almost immediately.
Being diagnosed with fibroids and faced with the tough decision of choosing the right “next step”, can be an intimidating experience. Even though fibroids are common, many women feel overwhelmed and at a loss of information when it comes time to managing symptoms. Before jumping into an invasive, irreversible surgery, it is important to consult multiple physicians regarding how the different procedures will affect your body. It’s crucial to choose a doctor that gives you options when it comes to treatment and doesn’t suggest invasive surgeries as being the only course of action available. Many women head into their first fibroid treatment consultation blindly, and come out wishing they had asked their doctor specific questions that could ease their fibroid fears. There’s nothing worse than leaving a doctor’s office less informed than when you went in. It’s shocking that many people are unaware of uterine fibroids, when it affects more than half of all women living in the U.S.
Here are a few questions that are important to ask your physician, in order to fully understand fibroid treatment:
- Are fibroids cancerous?
- No, they are one of the most common benign tumors!
- How do fibroids develop? Can you prevent them?
- No one knows why they form in certain people, but they are most common in women during their reproductive years. They also tend to appear when estrogen levels are higher.
- Are there different kinds of fibroids?
- Yes, there are four types of fibroids and they depend on where they are located. intramural (most common, it is embedded in the muscular wall of the womb), subserosal (these grow in the surrounding outer uterine tissue layer), cervical (grow near the cervix and can lead to painful sex), and submucosal (these can grow outwardly into the cavity of the womb).
- What problems can fibroids cause?
- Fibroids can lead to: painful sex, excessive bleeding, prolonged menstruation, intense cramping, fatigue due to anemia, frequent urination, constipation, infertility (in rare cases), back or leg pain, bloating, and difficulty sleeping.
- What is an interventional radiologist?
- Interventional radiologists specialize in minimally invasive, image-guided (ultrasound, x-ray fluoroscopy, MRI, etc.) diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as fibroids.
- How can I know for sure if I have fibroids or not?
- If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our women’s health specialists who will use ultrasound technology to locate your fibroids. If you are diagnosed with fibroids, our doctors will create a personalized treatment plan that’s right for you.
- What are my options when it comes to treatment?
- You can choose between invasive and minimally invasive procedures. Invasive procedures include: hysterectomy and myomectomy and minimally invasive procedures include: uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).
- What makes UFE better than an invasive surgery?
- No scarring
- No hospital stay
- No general anesthesia, just local
- Shorter recovery period
- Preserves the uterus
- Doesn’t interfere with hormonal balance
- Relieves symptoms almost immediately
- When can I expect to start feeling better?
- You can expect to feel your symptoms to diminish a few days after the procedure. The first few days, you may experience some discomfort and pain due to the procedure cutting the fibroids’ blood supply off, inevitably shrinking them and alleviating your symptoms. Every patient is different and while some do not experience this discomfort at all, some may need an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to combat this temporary pain. After a few days, your symptoms should disappear.
- How long does it take to recover?
- With UFE, you can expect to return to light activity within the first few days and fully recover between 1-2 weeks. During the months following your procedure, you will return to the doctor’s office for a few routine follow-up appointments.
If you’re experiencing unpleasant fibroid symptoms, and looking for a minimally invasive, non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy, look no further than USA Fibroid Centers. Our interventional radiologists have the knowledge and skill to help you get healthy and live your best life. Call us today at (855) 667-4247. Treatments at USA Fibroid Centers are covered by Medicare, most insurance plans, and Medicaid.
Feel free to visit our website for more information regarding our doctors, treatment procedures, locations, insurance coverage, and more. www.usafibroidcenters.com