Uterine fibroids are growths in the walls of the uterus. Although these growths tend to be benign—not cancerous—they may cause some annoying symptoms, such as pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, or problems getting pregnant.
When fibroids lead to symptoms, they may require treatment. A common form of fibroid treatment is a procedure known as uterine fibroid embolization.
Darin L. Weyhrich, a board-certified OB/GYN in Boise, Idaho, would like to share information with you about this this procedure.
When symptoms strike
Although fibroids can occur at any age, they most often develop in women between the ages of 30 and 40.
Uterine fibroids often cause no symptoms. In fact, a woman can have uterine fibroids and never know it. However, in some women, uterine fibroids, which are also referred to as myomas or leiomyomas, can lead to one or more of the following symptoms:
- Heavy or periods or spotting between periods
- A feeling of fullness in your lower belly
- An increase in the frequency of urination
- Infertility, multiple miscarriages, early labor, or other fertility- or pregnancy-related problems
- Low back or leg pain
- Pain during sex
- Constipation or rectal pain
- Painful periods or abdominal cramping
- Anemia (low blood iron) due to excess menstrual bleeding
Sometimes, health care providers discover fibroids during a routine pelvic exam, or they look for them when symptoms suggest their presence. You may have one fibroid or several. If Dr. Weyhrich suspects fibroids, he orders imaging tests to learn more.
Fibroids usually require treatment only if they cause symptoms. If you’re postmenopausal, your fibroids may shrink on their own.
Treating uterine fibroids can help reduce or eliminate symptoms. In some cases, Dr. Weyhrich can prescribe hormonal medications that slow or stop the growth of fibroids. If pain is your only symptom, over-the-counter pain medications may offer enough relief.
Sometimes, fibroids require surgical removal.
Another treatment option, uterine fibroid embolization, offers patients a nonsurgical, non-hormonal treatment for fibroids. This minimally invasive procedure requires only a tiny incision and can be performed on an outpatient basis.
What to expect
Uterine fibroid embolization requires no anesthesia, although you do receive a medication that relaxes you.
During your procedure, Dr. Weyhrich makes a small incision in the skin of your groin and passes a thin tube, called a catheter, into an artery. He then guides the catheter to your uterus.
Once he has positioned the catheter correctly, Dr. Weyhrich injects tiny particles known as embolic agents into the blood vessels that lead to your uterus. These tiny particles stop blood flow to the fibroid, which causes it to shrink and wither away.
Studies show that uterine fibroid embolization is at least 85% effective in reducing bleeding and alleviating pain.
Learn more about uterine fibroid treatment
If uterine fibroid symptoms are causing you discomfort or interfering with your fertility, schedule an appointment with Dr. Weyhrich. He can determine whether you have fibroids and work with you to decide whether you would benefit from treatment with medication, uterine fibroid embolization, or another procedure. Call the office, or make an appointment using our online scheduling tool.