Uterine fibroids can cause a range of symptoms that can affect your wellbeing. If you have fibroids and have been considering a hysterectomy, uterine fibroid embolization may be able to offer a less invasive solution. Our team at Zenith Health & Aesthetics in Memphis, TN, is here to offer some insight on this treatment option.
How Long Does It Take for Fibroids To Shrink After Embolization?
The timeline for each patient may vary. In general, you can expect fibroids that have been treated with uterine fibroid embolization to begin shrinking in about two or three months. At this point, you should start feeling your symptoms improve. In fact, as the fibroids continue to shrink even more over time, your symptoms should shrink right along with them.
Why Choose UFE?
Thousands of women in the US consider a hysterectomy each year. This is often a desperate attempt to treat the symptoms of uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroid embolization can offer an alternative treatment that is much less invasive and allows you to keep your uterus intact.
How Does UFE Work?
This minimally-invasive treatment works by blocking the blood supply that feeds fibroids. With no way to feed themselves, the treated fibroids should then shrink. The first step will be to insert a tiny catheter into your upper thigh.
Using a special x-ray for expert precision, we will move the catheter through the blood vessels until it reaches your fibroid. Once we’ve reached the fibroid, tiny particles known as embolization spheres will be released to block the fibroid’s blood source, which is its food supply.
What Are the Benefits of UFE?
It’s a Quick Process
UFE only takes an hour or two to finish. Once we observe you for a short time, you’ll be free to go home and relax. This isn’t something that will require you to spend the night here.
It Doesn’t Mess With Your Organs or Hormones
Having a hysterectomy doesn’t just mean losing your uterus. The process triggers early menopause, with all of the hormonal changes that come along with it. Additionally, removing the uterus can have an effect on the pelvic floor, bladder, and bowels. These areas can develop infection, pain, and protruding tissue after the uterus has been removed.
UFE gets right to the root of the problem and only treats the fibroids, so the rest of your organs aren’t affected.
You Get To Keep Your Uterus
While the symptoms of uterine fibroids can make a woman desperate enough to have a hysterectomy, in most cases women aren’t happy about having their uterus removed. Whether you want to avoid early menopause, or are hoping to conceive in the future, UFE may be able to help you avoid a hysterectomy so you can keep your uterus.
It Offers Excellent Results
This treatment has a high success rate that hovers right around 90%. Five years down the line, for around 80% of women, negative symptoms didn’t return. That means they didn’t have to have a second UFE treatment or seek out a hysterectomy.
It Can Save You Money
Hysterectomy doesn’t just include the initial high prince of surgery, it also can be expensive to take an extended period off of work to recover, or to stay at the hospital. Even the cost of follow-ups after surgery can add up.
UFE is a streamlined process that can safely and effectively get you comparable results to a hysterectomy, and potentially save you thousands of dollars at the same time.
Your Health Insurance May Cover It
Many health insurance companies are willing to completely or partially cover the cost of UFE treatment.
How To Tell If You Have Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids may be detected during your routine gynecologist examination. If this happens, it may be suggested that you get an MRI so the size and placement of these fibroids can be determined.
Other Diagnostic Tests
If you suspect you have fibroids but they can’t be located during a pelvic exam, there are other ways you can seek out a diagnosis. These diagnostic tests can include:
- An ultrasound
These tests can also be used to monitor the growth of fibroids. If you find fibroids that are small and aren’t causing any problems, you can keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t reach the point where treatment becomes necessary.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Symptoms of fibroids can range pretty drastically. Some symptoms are painful and obvious, while others are vague. How many fibroids you have, as well as the location and the size of the fibroids can all play a role in what symptoms you notice.
As we take a look at some uterine fibroid symptoms, it’s important to remember that any concerning symptoms, including severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pain in your pelvis, is enough of a reason to seek out medical attention.
Pelvic and Menstrual Pain
Chronic pain centered around the pelvis is a common symptom of uterine fibroids. You may notice a dull, heavy sensation in the area. Anything that puts pressure on the pelvis, such as lying on your stomach or bending over, may increase the discomfort. Exercise can also increase the symptoms.
Even if you don’t have daily pelvic pain caused by fibroids, you may still experience periods that are much more painful than they should be. Women who have to cancel plans or regularly call in sick due to the pain of their menstrual cycle may want to look into whether they are dealing with uterine fibroids.
A developing fibroid can cause the lower abdomen to swell. This symptom can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of, but if you find that you are bloating for no clear reason, a fibroid may be the culprit.
Many different factors can play a role in how heavy your menstrual cycle is. You may have accepted your heavy bleeding as normal, but heavy bleeding is one of the most common symptoms that you may have uterine fibroids.
In general, if your bleeding is heavy enough that you are passing large blood clots, if it goes on longer than a week, or if the heavy bleeding is causing you to constantly change your sanitary products or become anemic, it may be time to look into fibroids.
Miscarriage and Infertility
Many women with fibroids are still able to have a completely normal and healthy pregnancy. However, for some women, uterine fibroids can interfere with fertility. When fibroids block the fallopian tubes or warp the endometrial cavity, that can make it difficult to conceive. If you have been struggling to conceive, uterine fibroids may be worth looking into.
In some cases, multiple or large fibroids may also make a woman more likely to suffer a miscarriage. If you are concerned with any risks your fibroids may present, we would be happy to meet with you and discuss whether or not your fibroids may affect your reproductive health.
Pain during, or bleeding after intercourse can be a sign of uterine fibroids. For some women, the pain is severe enough that they may avoid sexual intimacy. Fibroids located by the cervix are most likely to cause this symptom.
The severity of this symptom does tend to vary per individual, with some women experiencing sharp or severe pain, while others may notice an uncomfortable pressure. In addition to seeking out treatment, some positions may be more comfortable than others for women who have fibroids.
Trouble Controlling the Bladder
When fibroids grow and press up against the bladder, it can make you feel as though you have to empty your bladder more often. For some patients, it can get to the point where they wake up at night to run to the bathroom.
Since this can affect the ability to control your bladder, you may find yourself wearing menstrual pads just in case your bladder leaks.
Pain in the Legs or Back
Some uterine fibroids can begin to press against your spinal nerves or the muscles of your back. The pain this causes often starts at the lower back and may shoot down your legs. In some cases, the tingling or painful sensation can affect your ability to focus during the day or get a restful night’s sleep.
FAQ for Uterine Fibroid Embolization
1. Will All of My Fibroids Be Removed?
UFE doesn’t necessarily remove fibroids. Instead, the fibroids shrivel up after treatment and significantly reduce in size. As their size continues to shrink, the symptoms caused by uterine fibroids should resolve themselves.
Its high success rate shows that UFE is one of the best treatments out there for uterine fibroids.
2. Why Did I Develop Fibroids?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any one reason a woman may develop uterine fibroids, or a clear way to prevent them. There are, however, some factors that may put you more at risk.
These factors can include hormone levels, or hereditary reasons. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause, so hormones may play a role in their growth. A woman also seems to be more at risk for developing fibroids if a close relative has them.
3. Is It Better Than a Hysterectomy?
While a hysterectomy may be necessary for some women, most patients are able to have their fibroids successfully treated with UFE. UFE and hysterectomies have similar success rates when it comes to treating fibroids, but UFE doesn’t involve as many potential downsides.
4. When Do I Seek Out Treatment?
If you have recently discovered you have uterine fibroids but they aren’t negatively impacting your life, you may not have to seek out treatment right away. Not everyone who has uterine fibroids will need to treat them.
On the other hand, if your symptoms are causing you pain or distress, or you are afraid they could interfere with your fertility, it may be a good idea to discuss whether or not this treatment is a good fit for you.
5. Is This the Right Choice for Me?
If you’re wondering if UFE is a good fit, our experienced staff is here to help. We’ll go over your medical history as well as your symptoms, and can let you know the different treatment options available to you. We can also give you a better idea of your condition by carrying out tests. These tests will help us get a clear picture of what’s going on and how we can treat it.
If you’re over 18 years old, aren’t expecting, and don’t have an infection, UFE may be a great way to treat your symptoms while preserving your uterus.
Our Team Has the Tools To Help
We know how isolating it can feel to deal with the symptoms of uterine fibroids. That’s why we are passionate about finding you the right solution. If you’d like to learn more about Uterine Fibroid Embolization, set up a time to visit us at Zenith Health & Aesthetics in Memphis, TN.