Many women have heard of uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous growths that can develop on the uterus. They are typically harmless, but they can cause a range of symptoms, including heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and infertility. A hysterectomy has often been the go-to treatment when the fibroids become problematic, but there is now a minimally invasive alternative: uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This procedure can help manage fibroids and relieve related symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll explore what uterine fibroids are, their signs and symptoms, and how UFE can be an effective and safe option for managing them.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign or noncancerous growths that can grow on the muscular wall of the uterus. They are relatively common in women of reproductive age, with some estimates putting the prevalence as high as 70%. However, not all fibroids cause symptoms, and many women may never know they have them. Fibroids can range in size from tiny, pea-sized nodules to larger growths that can distort the shape of the uterus. They can be located inside the uterus, on its surface, or within the uterine wall.
What Are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Some women with uterine fibroids may experience no symptoms, while others may struggle with debilitating symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids are:
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Enlarged abdomen or bloating
Frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder
Pain during sex
Pelvic pain or pressure
How Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization Performed, and What Are the Benefits?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure that cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die off. During UFE, a radiologist uses a catheter to inject tiny particles into the arteries that supply the fibroids. The particles block the blood flow, which starves the fibroids of nutrients and causes them to shrink. Because the procedure does not involve any surgical incisions, there is less pain, a shorter recovery time, and lower risks of complications compared to a hysterectomy.
Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization an Effective Treatment Option?
Several studies have shown that UFE is an effective treatment option with a high level of patient satisfaction. A large randomized controlled trial found that women who underwent UFE reported significant improvement in their symptoms, including menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and urinary symptoms. Another study found that 90% of women were able to avoid a hysterectomy by choosing UFE instead. Additionally, the procedure offers a lower risk of complications, a quicker recovery time, and a lower cost than surgery.
Uterine fibroids can cause a range of symptoms for women, and a hysterectomy has typically been the go-to treatment option. However, a minimally invasive procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) offers a safe and effective alternative for women suffering from fibroid-related symptoms. With the advantages of less pain, a shorter recovery time, and lower risks of complications, UFE can be an appealing option for many women. If you’re dealing with uterine fibroids, it’s important to talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options, including UFE.
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