Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that develop in the muscular tissue of your uterus. While this condition is relatively common, affecting between 20-70% of women, and isn’t cancerous, for some women, fibroids can cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Low back or pelvic pain or pressure
- Digestive issues (e.g., constipation)
- Incontinence and frequent urination
- Painful periods/abnormal bleeding
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
The board-certified interventional radiologists at Alate Health offer expert diagnosis and treatment of fibroids to women across the Houston, Texas, area. Here’s a look at some of the top treatments for uterine fibroids and which might be right for you.
A look at the top fibroid treatments
First, it’s critical to remember that most women who develop fibroids don’t have any symptoms. If your provider tells you you have fibroids, but the tumors aren’t causing any problematic symptoms, you don’t need treatment.
For women with pain, discomfort, or other problematic symptoms, however, effective treatments can help. These treatments range from non-invasive to invasive surgeries. Here’s a closer look:
For mild pain, your provider may recommend management with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For heavy bleeding, they may recommend hormonal birth control pills or an intrauterine device (IUD) or an iron supplement (to prevent anemia).
Another popular medication used to treat fibroids is gonadotropin-releasing hormone agents (GnRHa). These medications may help shrink fibroids in some women but can cause frustrating symptoms like hot flashes, joint pain, decreased libido, and insomnia.
During this minimally invasive treatment, the lining of your uterus is destroyed using different tools, such as a laser, electric currents, wires, and other techniques. It’s usually an outpatient procedure, and complications are rare. This treatment is not recommended for women who wish to become pregnant in the future.
This minimally invasive surgery is usually done laparoscopically to shrink fibroids using electricity, laser, cold temperatures (freezing), or high-frequency ultrasound. It’s usually recommended for women with few smaller fibroids who don’t plan to have children in the future.
This surgical procedure removes the fibroids from the uterus while leaving the uterus intact. It may be recommended for women who wish to have children in the future. While the procedure is effective at removing the fibroids, there is a high rate of recurrence.
It can be performed through traditional surgical methods (a large abdominal incision), laparoscopically using small incisions and special tools, or a hysteroscopy through the vagina. The type of myomectomy depends on the type of fibroids you have, their size, and their location.
This major surgery removes your uterus permanently, stopping menstrual bleeding and other fibroid-related symptoms. However, you cannot have children after a hysterectomy, and depending on your type of hysterectomy, it can cause vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and other symptoms.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Safe and effective UFE is a non-surgical fibroid treatment that shrinks fibroids by blocking their blood supply. Your provider inserts a tiny catheter into the blood vessel feeling the fibroid, then places tiny particles to block blood flow.
Research studies show at least 85% of women experience a dramatic improvement in their symptoms and overall quality of life. Complications are rare but can include incision site bleeding and infection.
The outpatient procedure requires only a small incision and usually takes only 90 minutes or fewer. The treatment works best on fibroids that aren’t extremely big and isn’t recommended for women planning to have children in the future.
Determine which fibroid treatment is right for you
The best way to learn which treatment is right for your symptomatic fibroids is by meeting with a fibroid expert, like the team at Alate Health.
Your provider asks you questions, evaluates your symptoms, physical health, fertility status, and medical history, and conducts a physical exam and imaging studies to recommend the right treatment for your needs.
It’s crucial to consider different factors when choosing a fibroid treatment. For example, your Alate Health provider assumes:
- Your age and proximity to menopause
- Whether you want to become pregnant
- The size and location of your fibroids
- The severity of your symptoms
With these factors in mind, your provider works with you to create a personalized plan for treating your fibroids. At Alate Health, our providers work hard to give our patients relief from fibroid symptoms without requiring invasive surgery.
Learn which fibroid treatment is right for you by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at Alate Health in Houston, Texas.