Hysterectomy vs. Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in a woman’s uterus and may cause a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms for uterine fibroids are: heavy bleeding during and in between periods, frequent urination, painful periods, severe cramping, and pain or pressure during sex. 

Women diagnosed with symptomatic fibroids are usually presented with few treatment options and told that a hysterectomy is the only permanent solution, which is just not true. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus either partially, or fully. The ovaries are sometimes removed as well. Fibroids and hysterectomy are not an attractive combination for women who want the option to become pregnant in the future or who do not want to lose their uterus. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical treatment option for fibroids that preserves the uterus. While talking to your doctor is essential to determining which option is the right one for you, you can become informed on the differences between these procedures.

When to Get a Hysterectomy for Fibroids

Although your doctor may suggest a hysterectomy, we recommend learning about your other options from a fibroid specialist. Although an effective fibroid treatment, hysterectomy can involve permanent changes to your health like infertility and early menopause. Beyond that, fibroid surgery is rarely necessary. 

Below, we will go into details of surgical vs. non-surgical fibroid treatment. At USA Fibroid Centers, our experts feel passionately that you should be informed of all available treatments. 

Hysterectomy vs. Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Here’s what you need to know about UFE vs. a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Recovery

After a hysterectomy, some side effects can be expected, including: vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, changes in bowel movements, changes in bladder functions, and the onset of menopause. Most women will experience vaginal bleeding or discharge for up to 6 weeks after the procedure. Changes in bowel movements and bladder functions are also common and may need to be monitored. 

Women who have had their ovaries removed during the procedure and have not gone through menopause, will experience an onset of symptoms relating to menopause. Due to the fact that the uterus separates the bladder and bowels by holding them in the correct places, a hysterectomy can affect these organs after being removed.

If nerves and blood vessels are severed during the procedure, other pelvic organs can be negatively affected as well. After hysterectomy, the risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder increases.

Not only are there numerous physical side effects to consider before having an invasive surgery, but many women do not anticipate the emotional side effects that come after a hysterectomy. The removal of the uterus can have a significant effect on mental health. These feelings of loss or depression can be intensified if the woman is of childbearing age and wishes to become pregnant in the future. Other women may experience depression because they feel like their womanhood is gone. Taking hormone replacements after a hysterectomy can also lead to negative thoughts and feelings. Dealing with painful physical symptoms can be exhausting and endless. Struggling through daily, physical stressors can negatively impact mood and mental health. It is important to consider all the physical and emotional side effects before undergoing a hysterectomy.

The overall recovery time from a hysterectomy is between 6 to 8 weeks.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Recovery

Women who undergo UFE are able to go home the same day as general anesthesia is not used. Because UFE is non-surgical, there is also little risk for complications like infection or hemorrhaging. Patients can expect some discomfort and flu-like symptoms for the first few days following their procedure; however, this discomfort can be managed by over-the-counter pain medication like Ibuprofen.

There are minimal, emotional side effects of UFE because women are able to retain their uterus. By preserving the uterus, other organs are not affected such as the bladder, bowels, and pelvic floor. This avoids the feeling of loss, as there is still the possibility for a woman to become pregnant. UFE also does not force a woman into early menopause. UFE can improve overall self-esteem and mental health, by eliminating the physical and emotional stress of uterine fibroids. If a woman had multiple, or large fibroids causing a protruding abdomen, women can expect to regain their normal figure. Being able to spend time with friends or family and participate in activities without the worry of unpredictable fibroid symptoms can also have a positive effect on mental health. Overall, women considering UFE have fewer risks to examine as opposed to a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Procedure

Women who undergo a hysterectomy will have to be admitted to the hospital and put under general anesthesia, as it is major surgery. During the procedure the doctor will make an incision in the vagina, abdomen, or multiple small incisions to remove the uterus completely. A hospital stay is then required to monitor the patient for any surgical complications. The length of the hospital stay is determined by the incision site and whether just the uterus was removed or if the ovaries and cervix were removed as well. If you have a hysterectomy, you can expect both stitches and scarring.

UFE Procedure

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a non-surgical procedure performed at outpatient treatment centers like USA Fibroid Centers. The procedure involves an interventional radiologist administering a light sedative to the patient before inserting a catheter through a small incision in the groin or wrist area. An ultrasound is then used to guide the catheter to the artery supplying blood to the fibroid. Once the fibroid has been located, small particles will flow through the catheter to block the blood flow to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and eventually die. After the procedure, the catheter is removed and a small bandage placed over the incision. After the patient has had time to relax to allow the light sedative to wear off, the doctor will go over all recovery information, making certain the patient knows what to expect and when to come back for their follow-up visit. The patient will then be able to go home to finish her recovery.

When it comes to a hysterectomy vs. Uterine Fibroid Embolization, UFE involves less pain, fewer risks, and a shorter recovery. This minimally-invasive technique allows you to go home the same day as your procedure. Most women are back to normal activities within only one to two weeks, with no stitches or scarring involved.

Alternatives To Hysterectomy For Uterine Fibroids

When it comes to fibroid treatment, there are several alternatives to a hysterectomy. These include: 

Myomectomy: Another type of fibroid surgery that removes only the fibroids instead of the entire uterus

Medications: Although some medications may offer symptomatic relief, only fibroid treatment like fibroid surgery or UFE can treat your symptoms at their source –– the fibroids themselves

Uterine Fibroid Embolization: A minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that shrinks your fibroids and can eliminate painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient symptoms

Contact USA Fibroid Centers

To learn more about our minimally-invasive approach to fibroid care, simply schedule an appointment online. We offer dozens of clinic locations nationwide, along with telemedicine options. Don’t suffer from symptomatic fibroids any longer. Get help today!

Schedule An Appointment

Don’t Suffer Another Day

Life with fibroids can be painful and challenging. Timely detection and treatment of fibroids can relieve symptoms, as well as reduce your risk for hysterectomy.

855.615.2555 Schedule Online