Non-Surgical Treatments of Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Embolization

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus which can cause pain and heavy bleeding. In the past, most of the approved treatments for uterine fibroids were surgical in nature, including removing the uterus through a hysterectomy or scraping and burning the fibroids through a myomectomy. A relatively new, non-surgical procedure known as uterine embolization can give patients with uterine fibroids new hope. The uterine embolization has a favorable comparison to surgical interventions such as fibroid removal and hysterectomy. First introduced to the U.S. in 1997, uterine embolization was one of the very first nonsurgical treatments for uterine fibroids. During the procedure, small pellets are introduced into the fibroid-feeding arteries in order to choke off their blood supply-without blood, the tumors begin to die. Most fibroids shrink significantly within six weeks, however you may experience relief from your uterine fibroid tumors much earlier. Complications from the embolization procedure were relatively rare, with only 1% of women experiencing major complications immediately following the procedure.

Long and Short-Term Benefits of Uterine Embolization

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that non-surgical embolization as a treatment for uterine fibroids appears to offer good, short-term relief, with few side effects. However, for those women who want to preserve their fertility, uterine embolization may not be the best treatment. Although pregnancies have occurred in women who have had the uterine embolization treatment, ACOG still considers it inadvisable for women who wish to retain their child-bearing options. While uterine embolization is not nearly as final as a hysterectomy, the role of embolization in child-bearing age is not yet known. Uterine fibroid embolization is generally performed by interventional radiologists who, guided by x-rays, use tiny instruments threaded through the blood vessels during the procedure. A five-year study of women who have undergone uterine embolization is coming to an end, and should give a comprehensive report of the side-effects of the procedure.

UPA as a Non-Surgical Treatment for Uterine Fibroids

A new drug on the horizon may offer help to the millions of women who currently suffer from uterine fibroids. The drug is currently being marketed as a morning-after pill, but may also offer pain relief from uterine fibroids as well; such fibroids can affect the womb and cause severe pain, intense periods and even infertility in some women. The drug UPA (Ulipristal Acetate) is showing promise as an alternative to the traditionally recommended hysterectomy. As a contraceptive, UPA places a block on the progesterone receptor, thus preventing ovulation. Those who have taken UPA report their fibroids had not only diminished in size, but their symptoms were relieved as well. Many women also reported having more energy and an increase in emotional well-being. UPA results may be a very good option for those women who want to preserve their fertility. Once UPA passes Phase III stage, it will be submitted for federal approval through the Food and Drug Administration. UPA may end up being an effective and non-invasive treatment for those women who suffer with fibroids, allowing them to relieve their symptoms and maintain their fertility at the same time.

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