What to Expect After a Uterine Fibroid Embolization

For women considering uterine fibroid embolization to treat uterine fibroid tumors, it is important to understand what to expect after your procedure.

UFE is a less invasive procedure done by an Interventional Radiologist (IR). The doctor will make one small incision in the groin area. From there, he or she inserts a small tube and uses X-ray equipment to guide it through the arteries in the leg and uterus.

Once the radiologist reaches the fibroids, he or she will inject small embolization particles into the arteries providing blood and oxygen the fibroids.

Without oxygen, the fibroid cannot stay alive so the tumors will shrink.  The embolization particles will remain in the uterus to prevent fibroid tumors from coming back.

The treatment lasts less than one hour. It is considered an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home that day and will not spend the night. You will not be fully sedated so you will remain awake throughout the experience.  However, a prescription painkiller will be given to you to help ease any pain your fibroid tumors may be causing you.

Patients should not plan on driving themselves home after the procedure is complete.  Pain medications given during or after your fibroid treatment will not allow you to safely drive yourself home.  Plan on bringing someone with you or having someone pick you up once you have been released.

What happens after UFE?

After the UFE procedure, you may experience pain in the lower stomach area.  You can expect to feel slight cramping like the pain you feel during your period.  However, your doctor will prescribe medications to help ease any discomfort.

Your comfort is extremely important to your doctor and nurses.  Expect to stay anywhere from 4 to 23 hours after your procedure is complete.  Your stay will be determined by how you are feeling after your uterine fibroid treatment.

Once the Interventional Radiologist (IR) feels that you are ready to go home, he or she will give you discharge instructions.  These instructions will have everything you need to know about post-UFE care. They will also include directions about medications you will need to take.

Your discharge instructions will direct you on when you can expect to return to normal activities. It will have a list of phone numbers you may call with any questions about your post-UFE care plan.

What kind of follow-up should I expect?

After your procedure is complete, your IR will consult with your OB-GYN for any follow up.  Be sure to ask your IR about when to expect follow-up appointments. Typical timeframes for these appointments are one week post-procedure and three months post-procedure.

How can I expect to feel once I am home?

At home, you may continue to have pain similar to menstrual cramps.  Cramping can last a few days after the procedure. Your doctor will have given you directions for managing this type of pain. Generally, you will receive medications for pain management.

whattoexpectafterufe

If you experience fever symptoms after your treatment, check your discharge plan for any directions about medications you can take to reduce fever.  You want to be sure to not take anything that may react with the pain medications you have been given. If you have questions about symptoms or a fever medication that is safe to take, call your doctor.

Some patients suffer nausea due to the pain medications.  Medications can and should be changed immediately if you feel extreme nausea.

Some patients may experience “post-embolization syndrome,” which may include flu-like symptoms such as a low fever, a vague feeling of discomfort, and mild nausea.  These symptoms can occur within a few hours or up to a few days after UFE.

Most women are able to return to light activity within just a few days of UFE. You should be able to return to work and a normal level of activity within 11 days of treatment.

To find a physician in your area who can perform the UFE procedure, use the Find a Physician tool at Ask4ufe.com.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

What Are Possible Side Effects of Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a proven fibroid treatment alternative to having a hysterectomy. It isn’t a drastic surgery. This less invasive treatment can preserve your uterus and decrease painful symptoms.

sideeffectsofufe1

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognizes UFE as a viable fibroid treatment option. However, there are still many women who suffer from fibroids that are not aware of all available fibroid treatment options.

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that are found within the muscle tissue of the uterus. Women with fibroids may show varied symptoms. These can include a heavy menstrual cycle with severe bleeding, pelvic pain and/or pressure, loss of bladder control, and frequent trips to the bathroom.

The size of these fibroids can range from the size of a walnut to as large as a cantaloupe (or larger).  Women may have multiple fibroid tumors, making it difficult to determine which fibroid is causing symptoms. Treatment is not recommended for women without symptoms.  Instead, your doctor will follow up with you regularly and monitor any changes.

How do I know if I have uterine fibroids?

Women with fibroids often have difficulty keeping up with daily activities because of menstrual discomfort. Some are unable to maintain their way of life. While not all women have painful symptoms caused by fibroids, these tumors can cause pain that can affect you in many ways.

Determine if you are at risk for uterine fibroids here.

How does the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure work? 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) begins with a small incision next to the groin area.  This small cut will give an interventional radiologist (IR) access to an artery in the upper thigh.

After this tiny cut is made, the interventional radiologist will insert a catheter (small tube) into the artery. The doctor will guide the catheter through the femoral artery to the uterine artery connected to the fibroid.

Once the catheter reaches the fibroids, he or she will inject an embolic agent (very small particles) through the catheter. This will block off the blood flow that leads directly to the fibroids. The small particles block the fibroids from receiving any more oxygen from the bloodstream. After the fibroids are deprived of blood and oxygen, they begin to shrink. The small particles will stay there permanently. The interventional radiologist will repeat the process on the opposite side of the uterus through the same initial incision.

After the interventional radiologist has completed this process on both sides, the catheter is gently removed. The interventional radiologist will place pressure on the small incision until bleeding has stopped. After holding the puncture site for a few minutes to help stop any bleeding, the IR may close the incision using a vascular closure device.

The procedure usually takes around 1 hour. After the procedure is finished, a team of nurses will help you with anything you need to feel comfortable. You will remain in the recovery area up to 23 hours, depending upon the decision of your physician.

sideeffectsofufe2

Possible Side Effects of UFE

Around 90% of all women are satisfied with the treatment. They report an improvement in mood and quality of life. However, there are risks and complications to consider:

  • Not having a period for six months or more
  • Common, but short-term allergic reactions such as rashes
  • Increased vaginal discharge or vaginal infection
  • Possibly passing the fibroid tumor through your period
  • Early menopause
  • The effects of UFE on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not been determined

Final thoughts

Now that you have more information, you will know what to speak with your healthcare provider about. There are side effects to be aware of, but UFE is a minimally-invasive solution for fibroids. This treatment will allow you to preserve your uterus, helping you avoid more serious complications that can happen with a full or even partial hysterectomy.

The UFE treatment can decrease heavy periods caused by fibroid tumors. It can and may decrease urinary dysfunction and pelvic pain. This treatment has very little blood loss and is considered an outpatient procedure. Patients usually stay up to 23 hours after the procedure is complete. With this more comfortable treatment, you will be able to return to work, school, and regular activities quickly and confidently.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a viable minimally-invasive fibroid treatment option for some women with uterine fibroids. It is covered by most insurance companies.  Visit www.ask4ufe.com for more information about uterine fibroids and about UFE.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

How to Know If You Have Uterine Fibroids

Every day, many women are plagued by painful periods, excessive bleeding, or frequent urination. These symptoms may seem to have no relief. But what some of these women do not know is that they are suffering from a common condition known as uterine fibroids.

Some studies suggest that 20-40% of women over 35 years of age have fibroids. Evidence also suggests that African-American women have a higher risk of developing them. In most cases, fibroids don’t cause any symptoms. But for some women, they can lead to very painful menstrual periods or other issues with the reproductive organs.

So how do you know if you have uterine fibroids? And if you do, what treatment options are available to you?

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Excessive bleeding: One of the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids is excessive menstrual bleeding. This can be a terrible inconvenience. Severe bleeding may cause you to stay home from work, school, or other activities while you recover. The bleeding can also last a lot longer and may take place in between periods.

  • Bloating: Uterine fibroids can cause you to always feel “full” in your lower abdomen. This is often referred to as pelvic pressure or pelvic pain. This occurs when fibroids grow and put pressure on the organs surrounding the uterus. The severity of the pelvic pressure depends on the location of the fibroids.

  • Frequent urination: The uterus is not the only organ affected by fibroids. They can also put pressure on the bladder, causing you to take frequent trips to the bathroom. Fibroids may put pressure on the bowel, causing constipation or bloating.

Other symptoms of uterine fibroids include pain during sexual intercourse, pain in the back of the legs, or anemia.

howtoknowifyouhaveuterinefibroids

Getting diagnosed

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms and they are preventing you from accomplishing your everyday activities, you should speak with a healthcare provider who can diagnose the cause of the symptoms.

However, most women who have uterine fibroids may not have any symptoms. Having regular pelvic exams can be helpful for early detection of fibroids.

Fibroids are usually found by an abdominal or pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider can often feel the fibroids with his or her fingers. It is usually a painless lump on the uterus. Your provider may also order an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to confirm the diagnosis.

If you begin to suffer from any of the above symptoms at any point, or otherwise suspect you may have uterine fibroids, schedule a full gynecological exam as soon as possible.

Treatment options

The best treatment option varies from one woman to the next. You will need to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine what is best for your situation.

Mild fibroid symptoms can often be treated with medications. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain. You may also want to take an iron supplement if you are bleeding heavily to prevent anemia.

Your symptoms may be too severe for over-the-counter medications or supplements. In that case you may need to have a procedure to relieve the pain.

Surgical procedures, such as myomectomy or hysterectomy, can be used to treat uterine fibroids. Some women may also be candidates for Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). This is a less invasive procedure that cuts off blood supply to the fibroids.

UFE is performed by interventional radiologists. They use X-ray equipment to guide them as they thread a thin tube into the blood vessels that supply blood to the fibroids. Then, small bubble-like materials are injected into the blood flow to block the vessels around the fibroids. This causes the fibroids to shrink. The procedure  lasts less than an hour and is performed as an outpatient procedure.

If you are suffering from symptoms of uterine fibroids, get in touch with your healthcare provider. If you want to see if you are a candidate for UFE, we have a tool that makes it easy to find a physician in your area who performs the procedure. All you have to do is enter your zip code to get a list of nearby physicians.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

What Could Be Causing My Period Pain?

whatcouldbecausingmyperiodpain

Painful periods affect many women. For some, it’s merely annoying; for others, it can be so bad that getting out of bed seems impossible.

The term for severe pain during menstruation is dysmenorrhea. It is marked by different types of pain in the abdomen and lower back. In most cases, the pain is normal and is not related to a specific problem with the reproductive organs. But sometimes there is an underlying disorder that could be causing the pain. This is a condition known as secondary dysmenorrhea.

So just what exactly is going on when the pain from your period starts to settle in? And what should you do about it?

Prevalence of Dysmenorrhea

If you’re hurting from your periods, you’re not alone. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), dysmenorrhea is the most reported menstrual disorder. More than 50% of all women who menstruate suffer from pain 1-2 days each month.

Many women with dysmenorrhea begin to suffer from period pain early in life. Often it begins soon after they start having menstrual periods. In most cases, the pain will get less severe as they get older or after they give birth.

On the other hand, secondary dysmenorrhea sets in later in life as women get further into adulthood. The pain will usually get worse, not better, over time.

What Causes the Pain?

Period pain usually occurs because the uterus is shedding its lining. It does this in preparation for the next menstrual cycle. To shed its lining, the muscular wall of the uterus will contract. This will block off blood vessels, causing pain. At the same time, the body will release prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that cause the uterus to further contract, leading to even more pain.

There could be other causes of the pain, however. Sometimes the pain is so severe that you are missing school, work, or other types of regular activity. If this is the case, or if it persists when you aren’t on your period, get in touch with your healthcare provider to get a diagnosis. You might be suffering from secondary dysmenorrhea.

Possible Causes of Secondary Dysmenorrhea

There are a few possible causes for secondary dysmenorrhea:

  • Fibroids. Uterine fibroids are fairly common, especially for African American women. They are non-cancerous tumors that grow on or within the muscle tissue of the uterus. Symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, frequent trips to the bathroom, and loss of bladder control.

  • Endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterus. The tissue bleeds monthly just like your period. The tissue could be in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, behind the uterus, or on the bladder.

  • Adenomyosis. This is when tissue that normally lines the walls of the uterus begins to grow in the muscle in the wall of the uterus.

Treatment Options

There are a few treatment options available if you suffer from painful periods.

Mild pain can be relieved by placing a heating pad on your abdomen or taking a hot shower. It also helps to get plenty of rest, to massage the affected area, and to avoid salty and caffeinated foods.

If the pain is enough to prevent you from doing everyday activities, start by talking to a healthcare provider. He or she may start by asking you to take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. These should be taken at the first sign of menstrual pain and should not be used for more than two days. Your healthcare provider may also recommend using birth control pills if the drugs aren’t working.

Your healthcare provider may also want to run some tests or do a procedure to figure out what’s going on. He or she may perform a pelvic exam or an ultrasound exam. In some cases, a laparoscopy may be necessary. This is a surgery that lets your healthcare provider look inside the pelvic region.

Once your doctor finds the cause of the period pain, there are a few treatment options. If endometriosis or adenomyosis is causing the pain, there are some hormonal treatments, such as birth control pills, that can help to relieve the pain.

If fibroids are causing your period pain, there is a treatment called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This focuses on cutting off the blood flow to the fibroids. It is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure.

If other treatment options don’t work and you’re still in pain, then surgery may be needed. A hysterectomy can be performed, usually as a last resort. This will result in the removal of your uterus and will lead to infertility.

Finding more information

Our website goes into more depth on how to know if you have uterine fibroids. If you are interested in finding a physician who can perform the UFE procedure, we have a tool that can help you find one in your area. Simply enter your zip code to get a list of physicians who perform UFE in your area.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.