Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) has been a medical breakthrough for women suffering with uterine fibroids with over 20 years of clinical use. UFE has been found to be safe with high efficacy for the treatment of fibroids, unfortunately many women suffering with fibroids may not hear about this treatment option from their doctor.
Myth #1 - “The only option to treat fibroids is surgery“
There may be a variety of reasons why uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is not mentioned by a patient’s doctor when discussing treatment options for fibroids. Hysterectomy or myomectomy are surgical options often recommended, however, many women would prefer to avoid surgery.
A survey in 2013 of nearly 1000 women in the US was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology which showed that the average time to seek treatment for women suffering with fibroids was over 3.5 years. A third of those women waited for 5 years or longer. The survey found that the majority of these women delayed their treatment because they did not want surgery and wanted a non-surgical option that was not commonly mentioned such as UFE.
UFE is a safe and less invasive treatment option than the typical surgical options for uterine fibroids with quicker recovery while keeping a women’s uterus. UFE is the kind of non surgical option many women are looking for. Women deserve to know all their options and should talk to the appropriate specialists to be fully informed.
Myth #2: “You are not a candidate for embolization”
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) may be mentioned by your doctor, but they may say you are not a candidate because your fibroid is too large or you have too many fibroids. These statements are false as there is no size limitation for UFE. UFE is also a good option for women with multiple fibroids as UFE attempts to treat all the fibroids at once. There are very few reasons why a woman may not be a candidate for UFE. Women should discuss embolization with a UFE specialist who can fully educate and inform them about their non surgical options such as UFE.
Myth #3: “You will still need a hysterectomy even after embolization”
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a highly effective non surgical procedure to treat all of a women’s fibroids while preserving her uterus. The majority of UFE patients find the relief they are looking for without surgery and are happy with their results. It is unusual for a woman to need a hysterectomy after UFE, in particular women over 40 years of age who are closer to menopause. Uterine fibroids are responsive to hormones and typically shutdown and become less of an issue once menopause arrives. While younger women have a longer time time period until menopause, the risk of growing new fibroids that become symptomatic is atypical.
Myth #4: “Women don’t need their uterus”
Up to 80% of women may have uterine fibroids by age 50. If a woman is no longer interested in having children, her doctor may recommend a hysterectomy as the key function of the uterus was to bear children. While there are many good reasons to consider and have a hysterectomy, it should not be the only option or may not be the best option for treating uterine fibroids. A woman’s uterus has a bigger role than just having children. The removal of the uterus can affect a woman’s sexuality, hormonal balance, and overall physical and mental health. Sexual function problems can include decreased sexual sensations and lack of lubrication. Some women may even experience depression or psychological stress stemming from feelings associated with losing reproductive organs.
In addition, the different variations of hysterectomy are not completely risk free as removing the uterus is a major surgery. Although the risk of death from hysterectomy is extremely low (less than 1%), surgical complications are real and can result in infection, bleeding, or damage to internal organs like the bowel or urinary tract. There may be additional long term risks with hysterectomy as removal of the uterus and ovaries at a young age may increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke and increased chances of early menopause in women whose ovaries are spared.