Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow on or within the walls of the uterus. Though fibroids are very common, affecting approximately 80 percent of women by age 50, many people with symptoms of fibroids don’t receive the help they need, in part because they remain unsure about their treatment options.
According to a recent study conducted by the Society of Interventional Radiology, one in five women in the United States believe that hysterectomy is the only treatment option for uterine fibroids. This staggering statistic depicts how serious the misinformation surrounding non-surgical treatment options truly is. This misinformation often stems from the fact that non-surgical treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), is not communicated as an option by their doctor or gynecologist. Instead, many women have to discover these options via friends, family, or online research. In fact, 73 percent of women who have heard of UFE learned about it by talking to others who went through the same experience, online research, or other resources.
This lack of awareness is concerning when many people are hesitant to undergo a hysterectomy. In the United States, over 200,000 hysterectomies are performed for the treatment of uterine fibroids – but many of these hysterectomies aren’t strictly necessary. Here is what you need to know about surgical procedures like hysterectomy.
Do You Need a Hysterectomy to Treat Fibroids?
In the majority of cases, the answer to this question is “probably not,” at least when treating non-cancerous fibroids. Hysterectomies are used to treat a multitude of other medical conditions such as uterine cancer and postpartum hemorrhage; however, uterine fibroids and adenomyosis are two conditions where non-surgical treatments like UFE should be considered first.
Unless you have a medical condition that requires immediate, lifesaving action, it’s important to consider all of your treatment options. At our centers, we believe that women should learn if UFE could be the best choice for them, before having to resort to invasive treatments. Though removing the uterus effectively treats fibroids by taking away the organ where they grow, hysterectomies come with many risks and side effects that often outweigh the benefits. Some downsides to keep in mind include:
- Extended recovery time after surgery
- Complete loss of fertility
- Early menopause if the ovaries are removed
- Reduced sex drive if the ovaries are removed
- Interference with crucial hormonal balance
- Risks of blood clots or infection
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Possible damage to surrounding organs such as the urinary tract, bladder, blood vessels, nerves, rectum, or other pelvic structures
Why Should You Consider Non-Surgical Treatment?
Before choosing to undergo an invasive surgery, women should be given all the facts about treatment options, risks, and benefits of each kind of treatment. Considering non-surgical treatments before surgeries like hysterectomy, give women more freedom. The benefits include:
- Shorter recovery after treatment
- High success rate of over 95%
- Able to preserve the uterus and its functions
- No hospitalization or general anesthesia required
- No scarring or stitches
- Effective at treating symptoms
- No interference with hormones
- Less risk of complications during and after treatment
- Able to return home immediately following treatment
UFE is an FDA-approved procedure that treats uterine fibroids by blocking off the arteries that provide blood flow to the tumors. The interventional radiologist utilizes advanced ultrasound technology to locate the fibroids. Then, they use the body’s natural pathways: the arteries, to directly treat the fibroids with precision. Due to the fact that UFE is a non-surgical procedure, fibroids are not removed but shrunk, which eliminates symptoms like heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, anemia, and frequent urination. Compared to a hysterectomy, UFE and other non-surgical procedures require far, less downtime for recovery and come with fewer risks.
Many women find that UFE fits their individual needs better because they don’t have to take off an extended amount of time from work and are able to keep their uterus, thus retaining your capability of having children in the future.
The same study that we discussed above also stated that over 44% of women diagnosed with fibroids had never heard of Uterine Fibroid Embolization. At our fibroid treatment centers, we believe that when patients are given information about all their options, they are able to make a decision that best fits their lifestyle.
Why Raising Awareness is Crucial
Many women are afraid of facing their uterine fibroids simply because they are not ready to undergo an invasive surgery and consequently, they continue to deal with their fibroid symptoms. Some worry about hospitalization, recovery times, and the costs involved, while others are still considering having children and are not ready to take away that opportunity.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we believe that women should not be forced to choose between continued pain from fibroids or enduring a major surgery. Many of our patients tell us that they struggled with their symptoms for years because they feared that hysterectomy was their only option.
The good news is that you don’t need a hysterectomy to treat your fibroids. Uterine Fibroid Embolization is performed as an outpatient procedure without any hospital stay and has over a 95 percent success rate. The majority of women who choose UFE experience a drastically improved lifestyle after their procedure.
Learn more about non-surgical, outpatient fibroid treatment, by giving us a call (855) 667-4247 to schedule a consultation with our interventional radiologists. All treatments at USA Fibroid Centers are covered by Medicare, most insurance plans, and Medicaid.