Uterine fibroids only need to be treated if they cause serious symptoms. Many women never experience symptoms; thus, do not know they have fibroids. If the fibroid tumors do cause symptoms, there are a couple treatment options.
Birth control pills can help with managing excessive bleeding and other fibroid symptoms. However, there are many potential side effects that come with birth control pills and researchers believe once birth control treatment ends, fibroid symptoms return.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists can be prescribed to relieve fibroid symptoms by reducing levels of testosterone and estrogen in the blood. Prolonged use of GnRH agonists can cause bone loss so treatments usually does not extend past 6 months. After treatment ends, fibroids and symptoms tend to come back.
NSAIDs may be prescribed for pain associated with uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. Through a small incision, the interventional radiologist inserts a catheter to deliver tiny particles to the fibroid location, which cuts off blood supply and causes the fibroids to shrink and disappear. The procedure typically takes less than an hour and has a short recovery time. Other benefits of UFE include:
UFE is generally a safe option. However, with any invasive procedure, there is a risk of bleeding, infection, and bruising as well as the possibility of a bad reaction to the anesthesia used.
Surgical options to treat uterine fibroids includes hysterectomy and myomectomy.
Myomectomy is a surgery that removes fibroids from the uterus without taking away healthy tissue and leaving the uterus intact. The benefit of this treatment option is that the uterus remains intact and future pregnancy is possible
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or parts of the uterus. Depending on the patient's needs, the surgeon may also remove the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and/or the cervix. Hysterectomies are usually a final treatment option for chronic issues such as: uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pelvis support problems, abnormal uterine bleeding, cancer, and chronic pelvic pain.
The disadvantages of both Myomectomy and Hysterectomy are due to the invasiveness of the procedures that requires a large incision, general anesthesia, and risks associated with surgery like blood loss, pain, infection, and longer recovery. The hospital stay usually lasts 1-3 days and recovery time is generally 2-6 weeks.