How are uterine fibroids treated?
The treatment for uterine fibroids depends on the size and location of the fibroids and the severity of your symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, your doctor may decide that there is no need to treat the fibroids. However, your doctor will likely recommend yearly visits to have them checked.
If you develop symptoms, there are a number of treatment options available, including:
How do I decide which treatment is best for me?
It is important that you understand all of the treatments that are available to you. You should have a detailed discussion with your physician about your options, including benefits and potential risks. The procedures and information described on this page are not intended to substitute for a physician’s judgment. Only you and your physician can decide which choice is best for you.
Medical therapy for uterine fibroids may include the use of drugs to provide control of symptoms. These drugs include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), birth control pills and hormone therapy.
There are two surgical options for uterine fibroids – myomectomy and hysterectomy.
What is a myomectomy?
Myomectomy is the removal of fibroids without removing the uterus. This surgical procedure preserves the possibility of getting pregnant.1 It can be done in several ways and may require hospitalization:
- Open surgery requires an abdominal incision to remove large or numerous fibroids that have grown deep into or outside the uterine wall. Recovery is typically 4 to 6 weeks.
- Laparoscopic myomectomy calls for one or more small incisions near your belly button. A lighted viewing instrument is used to remove the uterus. Recovery is typically 2 to 4 weeks.
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy involves placing a thin, lighted instrument through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to locate and remove fibroids or polyps on the inner wall of the uterine cavity. No incisions are needed and recovery is short. The Symphion™ System is used to perform these hysteroscopic procedures.
What to Know?
- Preferred option for patients who desire future fertility
- Fibroids can grow back after myomectomy; recurrence rate is higher for women with multiple fibroids
Recovery after Myomectomy
- Abdominal myomectomy recovery time is about 4-6 weeks
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy recovery time is less than 1 week
What is a hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and a permanent solution to uterine fibroids and polyps. The ovaries may or may not be removed as well. Abdominal, laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomies are all surgical procedures that eliminate any possibility of getting pregnant. They may require hospitalization and recovery is typically 2 to 6 weeks.
About half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the U.S. each year are due to fibroids.
UFE is a less invasive technique intended to block the flow of blood to uterine fibroids, depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients they require to grow. The procedure is performed under conscious sedation, typically lasting less than one hour.
What is the procedure like?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is performed by a specially-trained physician, an interventional radiologist, under conscious sedation. A small tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the groin. The radiologist maneuvers the catheter to the uterine artery and the vessels that surround your fibroids. Once in place, the radiologist will inject microspheres – like tiny balls made of gel - through the catheter. These microspheres will fill the uterine blood vessels and block the flow of blood, starving the fibroids of oxygen and causing them to shrink. As your fibroids shrink, your pain and other symptoms improve.
What happens after the procedure?
UFE usually requires a one night hospital stay. However, some women go home the day of the procedure.
What are the benefits of UFE?
- Shorter hospitalization and faster return to work compared to hysterectomy & myomectomy
- Often performed as outpatient procedure
- Higher patient satisfaction than standard treatments
- Preservation of the uterus
- Minimal blood loss
- Decrease in symptoms caused by fibroids:
- Heavy, prolonged periods
- Menstrual cramping
- Abdominal pain/pressure
- Frequent urination
- Lower rate of adverse events compare with standard interventional treatments
- Covered by most insurance companies