Uterine fibroids are a common occurrence in women over 30 years of age, causing a variety of symptoms. The symptoms range from annoying to debilitating. They may cause a change in menstrual bleeding, be accentuating it and/or prolonging it. This, in turn, causes tiredness which in itself can be debilitating.
Depending on the size of the fibroids, they may induce pelvic pain or a feeling of pressure in the pelvis, which can cause frequency in urination which is both annoying and embarrassing. In younger patients, fibroids can be a cause of infertility. All or some of these symptoms lead to a reduction in the quality of life, which in this modern day does not have to be suffered by women.
The approach for a fibroid treatment can be either surgical or non-surgical. The surgical approach is a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or myomectomy ( surgical removal of the fibroids and some uterine tissue.) In the case of a hysterectomy, the uterus is removed totally under a general anaesthetic. The patient is hospitalized for a few days and the general recovery time is 4-6 weeks. In this case, the patient must accept that her childbearing years are over. If a myomectomy is carried out, the fibroids are removed and also some uterine tissue, but the uterus is left intact. Unfortunately, the fibroids tend to re-grow. (50% of myomectomy patients will have fibroid re-growth within 1 year.) Again the surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic and the recovery time although shorter than for hysterectomy is still 4-5 weeks.
As medical knowledge and techniques have advanced so new methods have been developed in the sphere of fibroid management. This new approach for fibroid treatment is gentler and less invasive and retains the intact uterus. There is minimum hospital time(24hrs), no surgical scar and normal life can be returned to within days. The procedure for uterine fibroid embolization is the injection of tiny particles into the blood vessels that nourish the fibroid, thereby blocking the vessel and “starving” the fibroid. It shrinks and in a short period of time disappears as do the symptoms. It does not re-grow. The procedure is done in a hospital under local anaesthetic and most patients go home after 24hours and return to normal life in a few days.
As the uterus is left intact fertility is not interfered with. The treatment suitable for you can only be made by you in consultation with your doctor. Being well-informed about the relevant options will make this decision easier.