Alternatives to Hysterectomy for Uterine Fibroids

If you suffer from symptomatic uterine fibroids, we want you to know that there’s help available. Treatment options can alleviate the heavy periods, severe cramps, frequent urination, and painful sex that fibroids can cause.  In other words, there’s no need to suffer from fibroid symptoms any longer.  

At USA Fibroid Centers, our fibroid specialists can help you explore your treatment options. Here’s what we’d like you to know about fibroids, hysterectomy, and a minimally-invasive fibroid treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).

Do You Have to Have a Hysterectomy for Fibroids?

A hysterectomy, or the complete surgical removal of your uterus, is not the only way to treat fibroids. If you are considering having a hysterectomy for fibroids, it is important to understand that this treatment, though highly effective, has several serious downsides. 

A hysterectomy involves a hospital stay and lengthy recovery of six to eight weeks. It also involves surgical risks like an adverse reaction to general anesthesia, excessive bleeding, blood clots, and infection. Post-surgery complications for a hysterectomy include damage to the surrounding organs, resulting in incontinence, fistula formation, or vaginal prolapse. 

Sometimes, a hysterectomy can place you into early menopause, which can lead to additional, undesirable symptoms.

For some, the loss of a uterus can be devastating –– most notably for premenopausal women. If you wish to become pregnant in the future, there are several available alternatives to a hysterectomy that can eliminate painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient fibroid symptoms.

Alternatives to a Hysterectomy for Fibroids

At USA Fibroid Centers, we specialize in a non-surgical procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). It offers many advantages over hysterectomy, which we will discuss further below. 

Although we believe that UFE is the best fibroid treatment out there, our fibroid specialists are available to discuss all of your possible options. Ultimately, our primary goal is to help you make an informed treatment decision.

What Are the Alternatives to a Hysterectomy for Treating Fibroids?

When it comes to treating fibroids, there are several alternatives to having a hysterectomy. These include:

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that aims to shrink your fibroids and eliminate associated symptoms. Treatment is performed in a clinic setting and does not require general anesthesia, a hospital stay, or a lengthy recovery. 

During UFE, a specialized interventional radiologist uses ultrasound imaging to map your fibroids. Then, they thread a tiny catheter through an entry point in your numbed upper thigh. Next, they inject embolic materials through this catheter and into the main uterine artery. This process cuts off your fibroid(s) from blood flow and nutrients. Over time, your fibroid should shrink, and your symptoms resolve. 

After UFE, you will be able to go home the same day to begin your short recovery. Most women return to normal activities within one to two weeks. Because the injected materials remain at the fibroid site, it is rare to experience future regrowth.

For more information on the benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization over hysterectomy, please visit UFE vs. Hysterectomy.

Myomectomy

While a hysterectomy removes the entire uterus, a myomectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the fibroids themselves. Afterward, the uterus is reconstructed. When a large number of fibroids are present, myomectomy is not typically advised.

There are several variations of myomectomy: abdominal, laparoscopic, and hysteroscopic. Which one is recommended depends on the size, location, and the number of fibroids involved. The type performed determines your length of recovery, which can range from a few days up to six weeks. A hospital stay and general anesthesia are often required.

For those planning to get pregnant, myomectomy isn’t a great option as the procedure can cause the uterine walls to weaken or thin, making a viable pregnancy difficult..

If you are looking for a less-invasive alternative to hysterectomy, UFE may be a better option than a myomectomy. For more information on Uterine Fibroid Embolization’s benefits over myomectomy, visit our helpful page Myomectomy vs. UFE.

Uterine Fibroid Ablation

Fibroid ablation, such as the Acessa procedure, is a minimally-invasive technique that uses heat to reduce uterine fibroids. Ablation is performed in an operating room under anesthesia. It involves multiple small incisions into the abdominal region in which to insert small medical instruments. Most women recover within four to five days. Symptoms begin to improve during the following weeks to months.

Although there are pros involved with fibroid ablation, there are also some cons to discuss that may ultimately guide you to choose UFE instead. There is the possibility of skin burns and damage to nearby organs. Finally, there is insufficient data at this point to know how fibroid ablation affects future fertility. 

Additionally, the Acessa ablation procedure is a more recently approved treatment than UFE or fibroid surgery, so many health insurance plans don’t cover it. You may also need to travel to find an experienced practitioner. 

To learn about Uterine Fibroid Embolization’s benefits over fibroid ablation, go to UFE vs. Acessa Procedure and UFE vs. Fibroid Ablation

What Else Should I Know?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued guidance on a piece of equipment often used in hysterectomy and myomectomy called a laparoscopic power morcellator. This equipment can spread benign tissue associated with parasitic myomas, disseminated peritoneal leiomyomatosis, and uterine sarcoma. The spread of uterine sarcoma tissue can affect the life expectancy in those later diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Why Shouldn’t I Get a Hysterectomy for Fibroids?

There are several reasons why you may wish to avoid getting a hysterectomy for fibroids.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about getting a hysterectomy for fibroids is that you have other options. After all, we know that Uterine Fibroid Embolization can shrink your fibroids, eliminate your symptoms, leave your uterus fully intact, and quickly get you back to normal daily activities. Because of all these reasons, we hope that you’ll consider what we believe is the best fibroid treatment available.

Contact USA Fibroid Centers Today!

When you are ready to learn more about fibroids and hysterectomy, Uterine Fibroid Embolization, and other fibroid treatments, we are here for you. 

You can schedule an appointment online, visit one of the dozens of USA Fibroid Centers nationwide, and/or consult one of our leading experts during a convenient telemedicine visit. No matter where we meet up, we look forward to helping you take back control of your life!

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