Are you one of the many women who have been told you need a hysterectomy to treat your fibroids? If so, you may be interested in learning about some of the non surgical alternatives that are available. In this blog post, we will discuss three such alternatives: medication, uterine artery embolization, and radiofrequency ablation. We will also provide information on what to expect with each treatment option. So if you are looking for an alternative to surgery, keep reading!
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
If you have uterine fibroids, it’s likely that you are experiencing some of these common symptoms:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Pelvic pressure or pelvic pain in the abdomen and lower back (due to a large uterus)
- Frequent urination or difficulty emptying your bladder completely (caused by pressure on the bladder from an enlarged uterus), which can lead to urinary tract infections.
- Constipation or difficult bowel movements because of decreased bowel motility due to compression on intestines caused by fibroids pressing down on intestines outside abdomen wall.
Why are more women avoiding a hysterectomy and seaching for alternatives?
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus, or womb, is removed. There are three types of hysterectomy:
- total hysterectomy – where the uterus and cervix are removed.
- subtotal (partial) hysterectomy – where the uterus is removed, but the cervix is left in place, and
- hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – where the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed.
The operation can be performed as an open procedure with a larger abdominal incision or using laparoscopic surgery where small incisions are made on each side near navel then instruments inserted into these openings without cutting open skin. Or a hysterectomy can be performed via the vagina.
What are the common consequences of a hysterectomy?
One of the consequences of a hysterectomy is pelvic floor prolapse. This occurs when the pelvic organs, such as the bladder or rectum, fall down into the vagina. It can also happen to other organs like intestines. A hysterectomy disrupts the pelvic floor by removing the ligaments that hold it up and can lead to pelvic floor prolapse.
Additionally, hysterectomies are major surgeries with a long recovery period. Women who undergo surgery may experience complications, such as infection or blood clots in their legs (a condition known as deep vein thrombosis). It is common for women to take two months off of work after having one done because of how painful they can be during this time frame – especially if your job requires lifting heavy objects!
What are the symptoms of pelvic floor prolapse?
There are a variety of symptoms associated with pelvic floor prolapse:
- feeling like something is falling out of your vagina,
- vaginal bulge or protrusion (prolapse) that you can see, feel and/or touch in the vaginal area.
- difficulty urinating or defecating because of pressure on the bladder and/or rectum from organs pushing down into them.
- pain during sex (dyspareunia) due to prolapsed organs pressing against nerves in pelvis area; this pain may also be felt as a sharp stabbing sensation when walking, standing up after sitting for long periods.
What is a myomectomy?
A myomectomy is a surgical procedure like a partilal hysterectomy. A myomectomy cuts out the fibroids from the uterus. This surgery can be done through open surgery or laparoscopy. A myomectomy may also require the removal of some surrounding uterine tissue. This surgery is only recommended if you are trying to preserve your fertility as it does not always result in pregnancy. Disadvantages of a myomectomy include higher risk of multiple fibroids returning! Other complications include infection or bleeding.
Why do women choose non surgical alternatives over a hysterectomy (or myomectomy)?
Some women prefer non surgical alternative treatments because they want a minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia or incisions in their skin from where doctors will operate through laparoscopic surgery with small tools inserted through tiny incisions made in the abdomen. They also like non surgical alternatives because they don’t have to worry about a recovery period with no activity or heavy lifting for several weeks after an open surgery
What are the non surgical hysterectomy alternatives?
Fortunately there are non surgical alternatives such as medications, uterine artery embolization (UAE), and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) which all have different ways they treat fibroids.
What medical treatments are available to treat fibroids?
Medical treatments are suitable for women who have not yet had a hysterectomy and want non surgical alternatives and include hormonal treatment and anti-inflammatory medications.
A hormonal treatments with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHas or GNRH agonists) are the most common medications prescribed to treat fibroids. They work by lowering levels of estrogen in your body, which causes fibroid growth to slow down or stop completely over time while also reducing symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain associated with uterine fibroids. The downside is that they may cause menopausal side effects like hot flashes or mood changes so it’s important to talk about these options with your doctor before starting treatment!
Another medical treatment used includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen and naproxen. These work to decrease inflammation and pain.
These medical treatments can be expensive and take time to work. They also don’t address the underlying fibroids, which can grow back after treatment stops. And they may cause side effects such as hot flashes or mood changes so it’s important to talk about these options with your doctor before starting treatment!
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (or Uterine Artery Embolization)?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) or uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a non surgical procedure that can be done to treat fibroids. It is a minimally invasive, “pinhole” procedure that does not require the removal of fibroids or any part of your uterus. During this treatment, doctors use image guidance to guide them inserting tiny catheters (thin tubes) into blood vessels leading up towards your uterus where the fibroids are. Here they will deliver tiny particles through these tiny catheters so that they block off circulation which causes the fibroid to stop growing larger! In fact they begin to shrink and are absorbed or expelled by the body.
Afterward recovery times are typically very short with most women being able to return home within hours. The goal of UAE treatment for uterine fibroids is to reduce symptoms caused by these non-cancerous tumors without having surgery or removing any part of your body permanently like a hysterectomy!
This procedure is an outpatient surgery so you will be able to go home on the same day. The advantages of this minimally invasive, “pinhole” procedure include:
- rapid recovery
- fewer side effects
- less complications
- less risk
- can be performed in a comfortable, familiar outpatient setting without being “put to sleep”
- go home the same day with a Band-Aid
What is radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for uterine fibroids?
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a non surgical treatment for uterine fibroids. This procedure uses high-energy waves to heat and destroy the tissue of the fibroid. The goal is to reduce or eliminate symptoms caused by the fibroid without removing any part of your body permanently like a hysterectomy would do!
RFA is an outpatient procedure. There are some risks associated with this procedure such as infection, bleeding, and scarring but these are rare.
If you are considering a hysterectomy for fibroids, there are other options – non surgical options – that may be a better fit for you. We hope this article has been helpful in informing you about the various non-surgical alternatives to hysterectomy.