Are you suffering from heavy and painful periods due to uterine fibroids? Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop inside or on the uterus. Although not generally considered dangerous, they can nonetheless cause harm to surrounding organs, including the bladder and bowels. Fibroids can also impact fertility and cause a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms.
Although many don’t realize they are at risk, up to 80% of women develop fibroids by the age of 50. While fibroid symptoms can range, they often include severe cramps and excessive menstrual bleeding — sometimes to the point of causing anemia. Other common symptoms include frequent urination, painful sex, back pain, and low energy levels.
A variety of fibroid treatments are available, but people with fibroids often are not informed of all their options. As a result, the majority think that hysterectomy, the complete surgical removal of the uterus, is the only available method to treat fibroids.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer an effective, non-surgical fibroid treatment option called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE is an alternative to fibroid surgeries like hysterectomy or myomectomy, and can:
- Shrink your fibroids
- Preserve fertility
- Reduce or eliminate painful and unpleasant symptoms
- Quickly get you back to living life to its fullest
Uterine Fibroid Treatment
The severity of uterine fibroid symptoms can range from no symptoms at all to acute, ongoing issues that can impact your overall quality of life. Fibroid symptoms can be debilitating for some, prompting sick days, missed social engagements, and a difficult life built around managing painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient symptoms.
Because uterine fibroids can affect your career, relationships, sex life, exercise, self-esteem, and normal daily activities, we want you to understand that there’s help available. If symptoms are interfering with how you want to live your life, we recommend seeking treatment.
If you are not sure whether uterine fibroids are the cause behind your symptoms, we recommend visiting a fibroid doctor. Fibroid symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions of the female reproductive tract. Some of these conditions are serious and potentially life-threatening. Early intervention and treatment is often key for the best health outcomes.
Fibroids are often detected during a pelvic exam and confirmed with an ultrasound or MRI. Either of these imaging exams can indicate the type, number, and location of your growths. These factors may ultimately affect your uterine fibroid treatment options.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options
If your doctor determines that you have fibroids, they will likely discuss how to remove uterine fibroids and how to shrink uterine fibroids — two effective fibroid treatment methods you can read more about below. It’s important to schedule a consultation with a fibroid specialist before making any final fibroid treatment decisions.
UTERINE FIBROID EMBOLIZATION (UFE)
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an effective, minimally-invasive, non-surgical fibroid treatment that is performed by specialized interventional radiologists as an outpatient procedure. UFE leaves the uterus and ovaries intact and can help you retain your fertility. This fibroid treatment is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with an expected recovery time of one to two weeks.
The UFE procedure takes less than an hour and is done under light sedation, so you’ll be comfortable and calm throughout. General anesthesia is not required. Women considering UFE should know:
- Before the UFE procedure, your fibroids are located using an advanced ultrasound in a process called fibroid mapping
- After numbing your thigh, one of our specialists makes a small incision which serves as the entry point for a tiny catheter
- The catheter is threaded into the artery responsible for supplying blood flow to the fibroid
- Your doctor releases small particles through the catheter to block up this artery
- Once blood flow is cut off, the fibroid begins to shrink and eventually die
- Because the injected particles remain at the site, it is unlikely that fibroids will return in the future
- Your incision requires no stitches, just a small bandage
RECOVERING FROM UTERINE FIBROID EMBOLIZATION (UFE)
After Uterine Fibroid Embolization, you can return home the same day to begin your recovery. Most women are able to return to normal, daily activities in a short amount of time. During recovery, you may experience:
- Vaginal discharge
Some individuals, particularly those with large fibroids, may notice weight loss after UFE. Others may experience passing fibroids after UFE vaginally, which is most likely to occur with submucosal fibroids. Potentially, you may skip your first period after UFE, or even a couple periods. Or, you may menstruate sooner than usual.
If, at any point, you are concerned that your healing is not going as expected, be sure to contact your medical provider immediately. You can rest assured that complications are a rare occurrence following a UFE procedure, but we encourage you to check in about your recovery.
Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, is another effective treatment for uterine fibroids. It is also the only one that guarantees fibroids will not return in the future. However, this major surgery has a number of drawbacks and long-term health considerations. When comparing your uterine fibroid treatment options, especially surgical vs non-surgical, it’s important to know what to expect after hysterectomy.
Let’s start by covering the surgery itself, which usually lasts about one to two hours. You will be required to stay in the hospital afterwards for at least one day for close monitoring, since complications are possible. As with other major surgeries, these can include infection, excessive bleeding, an adverse reaction to general anesthesia, and blood clots.
RECOVERY AND SIDE EFFECTS OF HYSTERECTOMY
Beyond that, a full hysterectomy recovery generally takes quite a bit longer than recovery from other fibroid treatment options like UFE — typically six to eight weeks. During this time, you may have physical restrictions, such as no lifting for the first two weeks. Also, you will not be able to drive while taking prescription pain medications which are commonly prescribed after surgery. It is advised that you get plenty of rest during your hysterectomy recovery.
Potential hysterectomy side effects go far beyond the first six to eight weeks. Perhaps most notably, premenopausal women can quickly enter early menopause — which brings about its own set of both physical and emotional symptoms. You might be interested to learn that the average age of menopause in the US is 51, but fibroids are commonly diagnosed at a younger age, most often during the reproductive years.
Along with ending menstruation permanently, early menopause can cause:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Emotional changes
- Dry skin, eyes, and mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased sex drive
For patients who have not yet had children and still desire to do so, losing the uterus can be devastating. While doctors may suggest appropriate reasons for hysterectomy in some cases, be sure to consult a fibroid specialist who will cover your full range of treatment options. You should never feel pressured to take the drastic measure of having a hysterectomy before educating yourself on all available treatment alternatives.
In summary, the disadvantages of hysterectomy include:
- Has a higher risk of infection, excessive bleeding, and blood clots
- Involves the potential for an adverse reaction to general anesthesia
- Requires a hospital stay
- Has a longer recovery time than UFE, of six to eight weeks
- Results in infertility
- Early menopause is possible
Some women may be candidates for myomectomy, another type of fibroid surgery which can remove fibroids from the uterus. Many of the surgical risks are the same as those that occur with a hysterectomy. These include excessive bleeding, infection, blood clots, and an adverse reaction to general anesthesia. Women often lose more blood during a myomectomy than a hysterectomy, which can be concerning since many women with fibroids are already experiencing low blood counts. After surgery, it is possible to develop issues from related uterine scar tissue.
Although the uterus is left in place with myomectomy surgery, you may be at increased risk of future pregnancy or childbirth complications.
Best Treatment for Fibroids
At USA Fibroid Centers, you’ll discover that UFE is an effective, lower risk, less invasive fibroid treatment that saves the uterus and ovaries, while eliminating painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient symptoms.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) offers a variety of benefits over hysterectomy and other fibroid surgeries, with an approximate success rate of 85 percent. UFE is:
- Non-surgical and minimally invasive
- Lower risk than surgery
- Able to preserve the uterus, ovaries, and fertility
- Performed in outpatient setting
- Performed by fibroid experts
An FDA-approved fibroid treatment
Contact USA Fibroid Centers
If you’re not sure which fibroid treatment is right for you, visit a fibroid specialist to learn more about your uterine fibroid treatment options. At USA Fibroid Centers, we believe that women should be informed of all available fibroid treatments. We also think that a minimally-invasive, non-surgical approach is often the best treatment for fibroids.
Most patients report an improvement in fibroid symptoms after Uterine Fibroid Embolization. They are also able to reclaim their previously affected career, social life, relationships, and sex life. We assure you that there is a better life after fibroids with proper treatment!
After UFE, you may experience:
- Lighter and shorter menstrual bleeding
- Pain relief
- Resolution of fibroid-related anemia
- An improved sex life
- A positive body image
- Higher self-esteem
- More energy
- Pregnancy and motherhood
If you are suffering from painful, unpleasant, or unwanted fibroid symptoms, we can help. As America’s #1 fibroid experts, we offer dozens of clinics across the country. Schedule a consultation today to meet with one of our top fibroid specialists and learn more about Uterine Fibroid Embolization. For your safety and convenience, we are now offering telemedicine consultations.