How To Treat Fibroids
Data shows that more than 70% of women1 have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. In these cases fibroids usually don’t need to be treated at all. However, in some cases there are symptoms that can disrupt every day lives making it virtually impossible to accomplish the simplest of tasks. For example, heavy bleeding, pelvic discomfort, urinary complications, lower back pain, or pain during sex are some of the common fibroid symptoms. If you are in the group that suffers from these complications, you will discover that there are a variety of treatment options available.
Medications are commonly the first line of therapy when treating fibroids. However, drug therapy will not eliminate the uterine fibroids. They work by lowering estrogen and placing the woman in a state similar to menopause. The lowered estrogen may shrink the fibroids and relieve symptoms temporarily. The most common and effective types of drugs for this treatment are gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRH-a) therapy2. However, once the treatment is stopped, the fibroids regrow, and the woman’s symptoms return. These medications can’t be used indefinitely, since long-term use can significantly decrease bone density and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Other methods of treatment, such as using contraceptive pills, have been shown to control excessive menstrual bleeding, but do not affect the size of the fibroid.
Ultrasound Guided Radiofrequency Thermal Ablation
A new minimally invasive treatment using the Acessa System utilizes radiofrequency (RF) thermal ablation in the tretment of uterine fibroids. This type of treatment can be done on an outpatient basis. The physician uses ultrasound during the procedure to identify all of the patient’s fibroids. It allows the patient to keep her uterus, it has a low rate of recurrence of fibroids, and the patients recover quickly in a matter of a few days.
The most common type of surgery to remove uterine fibroids is a hysterectomy. In the United States, over 200,000 women a year get this treatment because of fibroids1, making it the most common reason for hysterectomies. This procedure involves completely removing the uterus, thus making it impossible for the fibroids to grow back. However, it also eliminates a woman’s chance of getting pregnant again and can lead to many other problems for the patient later in life. This may not pose an issue for women who are in their postmenopausal years. The recovery time for a hysterectomy is usually 4-6 weeks.
For women who are in their child-bearing years, and still want this as an option, may consider having a myomectomy. This involves the surgical removal of the individual fibroids, rather than the whole uterus. It allows the uterus to be left in place and, for some women, makespregnancymore likely than before. After myomectomy, your chances of pregnancy may be improved but are not guaranteed. However, it often only treats some of the fibroids, so women who have the procedure have a high rate of recurrence of fibroid symptoms. The recovery time for a myomectomy is usually 2-4 weeks3.
Uterine Artery Embolization
Uterine artery embolization, or UAE, is a procedure done by aradiologist. It blocks bloodflow tofibroidsin the uterus. For women who are not planning apregnancyin the future, UAE is a possible option in place of surgery forfibroids. It can be done on an outpatient basis, but usually requires overnight stay to control pain. It has a high recurrence rate of fibroid symptoms.
Learn About Your Options
It may be common for women to get fibroids, and in most cases, be able to go on with their everyday lives without treatment being necessary. For those who do suffer from the more severe symptoms caused by uterine fibroids, it’s important to be educated about the treatment options available.
If you feel you may have the symptoms or have been diagnosed with uterine fibroid tumors, it is a good idea to discuss all of the available treatments for fibroids, including alternatives to hysterectomy. For more information, or to locate a doctor near you, please contact Acessa Health at 877.412.3828.