Uterine fibroids can be a painful and crippling affliction. Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options available for the treatment of this issue.
One very effective treatment is uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE. How do you know if this treatment is right for you? Here is everything you need to know to find out whether a uterine fibroid specialist in College Park, Maryland offering UFE can help.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in and on the uterus. These growths form in the muscles and connective tissues and grow in clusters. Sizes can range from a millimeter to over 20 centimeters.
Between 40% and 80% of all people have at least one fibroid somewhere in their body. However, fibroids in other locations often cause less pain and other symptoms than those in the uterus.
Fibroids often develop in women:
- Diagnosed with obesity
- With a family history
- With late onset of menopause
- Whose first menstrual cycle was at a young age early
While fibroids are rarely malignant, you should have regular visits with your gynecologist to monitor them, especially if they grow quickly or they develop during menopause. In those cases, the fibroids are at a higher risk of being cancerous.
How Do I Know if I Have Them? What Are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
It is possible to have small, asymptomatic fibroids and not notice any symptoms. However, larger fibroids, or clusters of smaller fibroids, can often yield symptoms. If you notice any of the following signs, keep track of what you feel and when, and bring the information to your next appointment with your uterine fibroid specialist in College Park, Maryland.
Symptoms that could indicate fibroids include:
- Abdominal distention
- Bloating in the lower abdomen
- Chronic vaginal discharge and / or bleeding
- Frequent urination
- Otherwise unexplained back pain
- Pain and / or pressure in pelvic region
- Painful and / or excessive menstrual bleeding
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Periods that last longer than seven days
Anemia is also often a sign of uterine fibroids.
Talk to your health provider about a diagnosis if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have more than one.
Oftentimes, fibroids can be found during a pelvic or gynecological exam, and testing can also confirm the diagnosis. Tests include MRI, ultrasonography, computed tomography, laparoscopy, and sonohysterography.
What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization Exactly, and How Does It Help?
UFE is a minimally invasive treatment that treats uterine fibroids in an outpatient procedure without the use of general anesthesia or sutures. This treatment works by inserting a thin catheter into a groin artery after making an incision in the area. This incision is only about the size of a pencil tip.
That catheter releases small particles that block the tiny blood vessels that feed the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply, or “food” source. As a result, the fibroids soften and shrink in size, and symptoms become less intense or disappear completely.
Who Is a Good Candidate For UFE?
UFE can be an extremely helpful procedure for many suffering from fibroids. About 90% of patients report a vast improvement in their symptoms after they undergo this procedure.
Good candidates for UFE may be those who are not candidates for fibroid removal surgery, which may or may not involve removing the entire uterus.
So, it’s a better option for those who want to retain their uterus in order to try to preserve fertility, though the fertility rate of those who undergo UFE is not certain. However, it can have a negative effect on placental attachment and women who are pregnant after UFE often have higher incidence of stillbirth or premature birth.
Not everyone is eligible for this treatment. Those with very large fibroids, a pelvic infection, and endometrial cancer should look for alternate treatments. To find out if you qualify for UFE, you should check with your healthcare provider.
What Other Treatments Exist For Uterine Fibroids?
If UFE is not right for you, there are several other treatments you can consider. The right treatment depends on the size, location, and number of fibroids.
A lack of symptoms can indicate that you do not need immediate intervention, so one option is no treatment at all.
There are both surgical and non-surgical options:
- Non-surgical medication-based options include pain maintenance medications, iron supplements, birth control, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, and other oral medications. Most of these options are a good choice if you want to manage symptoms, as most of these do not actually eliminate fibroids.
- Surgical options, or myomectomies, for treating the presence of fibroids include hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and laparotomy. A hysterectomy or radiofrequency ablation may also be used. All of those treatments involve the removal of fibroids through varying degrees of invasiveness. Most of these treatments try to maintain fertility.
In some cases, the removal of the whole uterus through a hysterectomy is the most effective way to get rid of fibroids. Your provider will likely recommend you try the least invasive route possible first before a more aggressive approach.
Find Lasting Relief From Fibroids With a Uterine Fibroid Specialist in College Park, Maryland!
If you need a women’s health provider specializing in fibroids, Women’s HealthCare Specialists near College Park is here for you! We work hard to provide you with careful and compassionate care so you can live in comfort.
To book an appointment, call us at 301-812-3400 today. Be on your way to optimal health through fibroid treatments including UFE!