If you’ve just been diagnosed as having uterine fibroids, you probably have a lot of questions to ask. You may be worried about what your future holds and you may not even understand what it means to have uterine fibroids. It’s important for you to learn as much as you can about the condition so you can make informed decisions about your treatment options.
The most important fact to keep in mind is that uterine fibroids are the most common type of non-cancerous growth affecting a woman’s reproductive tract. While most women are diagnosed and treated during their childbearing years, from age 35 to 54, fibroids can occur earlier or later. Women who are obese or are of African-American extraction have a higher risk for developing uterine fibroids.
Even if a woman develops fibroids, she may not notice them. In fact, around 40% of women with fibroids never experience any symptoms whatsoever. Often, fibroids are found during a routine pelvic examination. But even when fibroids don’t cause noticeable symptoms, they can sometimes create complications, such as infertility.
Until recent times, a hysterectomy was the treatment of choice for uterine fibroids. But while many doctors are still performing this surgery for this same purpose, the medical community is beginning to believe that other treatment options may be preferable. Today, there exist several minimally invasive treatments for this condition.
One of the newest treatments for uterine fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This procedure can be the right way to go for women who don’t require a full hysterectomy. An interventional radiologist performs this procedure which involves a small incision in the groin area.
After the incision is made, a catheter is threaded into the arteries that connect to the uterus. Small particles are then injected into the catheter. The particles prevent the flow of blood to the fibroids and this makes them shrink. Smaller fibroids equal relief from pressure and pain.
The patient is kept overnight and released from the hospital the next day. Full recovery takes one week. UFE avoids the risks and complications that come with a hysterectomy, which is major surgery. It allows a woman to return to the work place and a full and healthy lifestyle within a short time span. Other advantages to UFE include:
*Preservation of the uterus
*No stitches necessary
*No blood loss
*Pain is gone within 3 days
*Minimal risk for needing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) post-procedure