My doctor told me my fibroids need treatment, but I'm confused about my options. Please help.
Traditionally, doctors usually recommended that fibroids be treated by hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or myomectomy (removal of the fibroids) — both major, invasive surgeries requiring hospitalization with long recovery times and other disadvantages, such as higher complication rates and potential organ loss. For over two decades now, minimally invasive UFE has been used to successfully treat fibroids and help women get back to their lives much more quickly.
Know that even some physicians aren’t aware of the advantages of UFE over other options, but as the patient, you should get all the facts. And your doctor should support your learning about generally accepted, evidence-supported medical treatments in the context of your circumstances.
If I don't have severe symptoms, should I worry about my fibroids?
It’s up to you and your trusted physician on whether to treat asymptomatic fibroids. Because fibroids have a blood supply, they will inevitably grow. Of course, not all women have fibroids that grow at the same pace. In many cases, a woman with fibroids will monitor her condition until an outside factor causes her to seek treatment. This monitoring is a part of ongoing gynecological care of fibroids.
If you think UFE might be an option in the future, sign up for our informative VIVA EVE newsletter, which provides facts and tips about fibroids and other women’s health issues.
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Learn more about fibroid screening.
How dangerous are fibroids?
Because they are non-cancerous, fibroids are usually not life-threatening. However, for women who suffer from fibroids, the symptoms may dramatically compromise their quality of life on a daily basis. Pain from severe cramping or during sex as well as discomfort and inconvenience from excessive bleeding, bladder pressure, etc., can have a debilitating effect on mood, emotions, and libido. So, while most fibroids aren’t life threatening, many women find them to have a negative effect on their lifestyle.
Studies have found that many women suffer from lost work time because of symptoms or the long recovery from certain surgical treatments.
Read more about fibroids and depression
Read more about fibroids and self-esteem.
I have heavy bleeding and pain — how do I know for sure if I actually have fibroids?
This is a great question because fibroids are a common condition that is often minimized, misunderstood, and misdiagnosed — even with the proper testing. Sometimes fibroids symptoms are confused with the symptoms of adenomyosis: the two very different conditions cause very similar symptoms and are both treatable with UFE.
Because the symptoms of fibroids are the same as the symptoms of many other health conditions, many women don’t even know they have fibroids and may see two or more doctors before being diagnosed. That’s why it’s important to have a proper screening by someone who is an expert in fibroid diagnosis and treatment.
Make an appointment to get screened at VIVA EVE.
Learn more about adenomyosis.
Who gets fibroids?
Fibroids are very common in most female populations. Eighty percent of women can expect to develop fibroids during their lifetimes, and about 60% of reproductive-aged women will have fibroids.
However, fibroids have a higher occurrence rate in women of African-American, Hispanic, Eastern European, and Asian heritage, but research has not revealed clear reasons why. Some studies suggest that African-American women are three times more likely to get fibroids than other groups.
Read more about fibroids and African-American women.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. There are different types of fibroid tumors, and they can be as tiny as a seed, as large as a melon, or any size in-between. They can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from severe cramps and abnormally heavy bleeding to pain during sex to constipation and incontinence.
Read more about fibroids.
Learn more about the symptoms of fibroids.
What are the most common symptoms of fibroids?
- Heavy, prolonged or painful menstrual periods with or without clotting
- Pain during sex and loss of libido
- Pelvic pressure and pain, distended and bloated abdomen
- Lower back pain and pain in the back of the legs
- Moderate to severe menstrual cramps
- Anemia (low blood count) that can lead to a lack of energy and fatigue
- Weak bladder control, frequency in urination due to bladder pressure
What is UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization)?
UFE is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure for the treatment of fibroids that has been performed successfully for over two decades. Approximately 14,000 successful UFE procedures are performed annually in the United States, and the procedure is covered by most major insurance companies.
UFE is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure performed by an interventional radiologist.
Fibroids need a blood supply to stay alive and grow. UFE stops and reverses the growth of fibroids by blocking their blood supply. The procedure is performed while the patient is conscious or minimally sedated, but feeling no pain. It does not require general anesthesia.
The interventional radiologist makes a tiny incision in the wrist or groin and inserts a catheter into the radial or femoral artery. Using real-time imaging, the doctor guides the catheter through the artery into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the fibroids. The doctor then releases tiny particles — the size of grains of sand — into the uterine arteries to stop the flow of blood to the fibroid.
Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization safe?
UFE actually has a lower rate of complications and a higher success rate than other fibroid treatments. It’s a time-tested procedure that has been performed by interventional radiologists for over 20 years. Approximately 20,000 successful UFE procedures are performed annually in the United States, and tens of thousands more worldwide.
Learn more about a VIVA EVE UFE and its many benefits.
How do I know if I am a candidate for UFE?
If you suspect that you have fibroids or were recently diagnosed, you may be a candidate for UFE. Whether or not you are a candidate for UFE depends on the exact size, number and location of the fibroids as well as your symptoms, medical history, and other circumstances.
It’s important to be screened by a fibroid expert. Even many great doctors are unaware of all the fibroid treatment options and the most current research comparing alternatives.
Learn more about UFE screening.
How quickly can I expect symptom relief with UFE?
As the fibroids shrink over several months, most women report significant improvement in the way they feel around their third period cycle post-procedure, though many experience symptom relief sooner.
Learn what VIVA EVE interventional radiologist Dan Levin, MD, has to say about relief from fibroid symptoms.