Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors caused by the rapid growth of tissue cells in the walls of the uterus. They can affect up to 80% of the female population but only about 25% to 30% will have actual symptoms interfering with the quality of life that need treatment.
Uterine fibroids can cause infertility because they can affect the uterus and cervix, the organs at the center of the female reproductive system. They can alter the shape of the cervix or block the fallopian tubes, making it more difficult for the sperm to fertilize the egg. They may also change the shape of the uterus or affect the thickness of its lining, which decreases the likelihood of implantation. In addition, a significant mass effect from fibroids makes for a high-risk pregnancy and increases the risk of miscarriage.
Fortunately, fibroids are not incompatible with pregnancy but they tend to grow faster and bigger during pregnancy. With today’s technology, we are fortunate to have a whole arsenal of therapeutic options at our disposal.
Treating Uterine Fibroids
Treatments for this condition vary depending on the size, number, and location of the fibroids. In most cases, fibroids don’t require immediate attention unless they’re causing severe symptoms, such as:
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Painful intercourse
- Trouble urinating
- Chronic bloating or abdominal pain
1. Uterine Fibroid Embolization:
Also known as uterine artery embolization, should be your first treatment option. Your gynecologist should offer you this procedure before offering you any traditional hysterectomy or myomectomy. Never accept hysterectomy as a sole option. Always explore other minimally invasive procedures so you stay in control. You can always resort to hysterectomy if nothing else works, which is very unlikely.
Know that almost 650,000 hysterectomies are done in the US every year, and according to The Lancet Medical Journal, 75% of those hysterectomies are unnecessary.
You would never accept mastectomy (breast removal) for benign breast disease, why would you do so for benign uterine disease?
UFE is a same-day, no incision procedure in the office lab. No hospital stay is required and you are up and running in 5-7 days. Compare that to a two-month downtime with any conventional surgery.
It is your right to be informed about all your options. After you are fully informed, if you choose to have conventional surgery/hysterectomy/myomectomy, it is absolutely your right.
In addition, if you are of childbearing age, know that pregnancy is possible after UFE. We have many patients who have gotten pregnant after the UFE procedure.
In today’s modern medicine, uterine fibroid embolization is considered the “iPhone” of procedures!
Medications can be helpful in managing symptoms, but they will not resolve the root cause of your fibroids or adenomyosis. You will still need a more definitive treatment.
Common oral medications such as ibuprofen, iron supplements, and hormonal birth control are often prescribed to manage fibroid symptoms. For severe cases, a doctor may prescribe hormones or a hormone antagonist. These medications aren’t without side effects. Hormone treatment can predispose to blood clots and brittle bones.
You should never accept a hysterectomy as a first option! Not in 2022 and not after.
Unless you have been informed about all available options, including uterine fibroid embolization and you clearly decided you wanted a hysterectomy, do not accept it as the first option EXCEPT if you have been told there may be uterine, cervical cancer, or other malignancy.
If you are offered hysterectomy as the only option, leave that office and give us a call. You will be happy you did.
Myomectomy can be an appropriate option in select cases, especially as an option for patients with a single fibroid who desire future pregnancies. If you have multiple fibroids, myomectomy then becomes more complex and may lead to hysterectomy during the operation. In addition, your fibroids are very likely to come back down the road and you will potentially need more surgery. Myomectomy does carry the same risks and downtime as a hysterectomy.
Finally, hysterectomy and myomectomy are still traditional surgery regardless of whether it’s done via a large incision or laparoscopy or dual-port or robotic, etc…There is nothing minimal about that. Instruments are still going to come in contact with other organs, scars will form, and not be much reduction in downtime!
At this time, it’s not possible to prevent the condition. Researchers are still investigating the cause of fibroids, but there are things you can do to promote better health. Obesity and being overweight are real risk factors for many diseases. So good lifestyle choices and exercise are free and go a long way to promote good health.
In addition, staying up to date with your wellbeing checks and screenings will help you take control and be ahead of the curve.
Consult an Expert
If you have uterine fibroids and are experiencing fertility issues, consulting an expert is the best way to meet your health goals. Contact the experienced specialists at Image Guided Surgery to schedule your consultation today.