Gotta Go? UFE Improves Fibroid-Related Urinary Symptoms.
Alicia Armeli

Uterine fibroids are infamous for causing painful, heavy periods. But if you have fibroids, you’re probably well aware of another problem that isn’t given nearly as much attention as it deserves:

Lower urinary tract symptoms.

For many women, feeling like you have to go all the time, even at night, can annoyingly disrupt your everyday life and even be the cause of embarrassing accidents. But take heart. Research shows women can find relief without settling for invasive treatments like hysterectomy.

A study published in the International Urogynecology Journal showed that minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) significantly improved several lower urinary tract symptoms and urinary-related quality of life scores among women with fibroids.1

The study included 57 women who averaged 44 years of age and who suffered from fibroid-related lower urinary tract symptoms.1 Between March 2008 and May 2010, they each underwent UFE. Before treatment and 3 months afterward, women completed questionnaires and a 48-hour bladder diary, describing the intensity of lower urinary tract symptoms and how these symptoms impacted their quality of life. Researchers found that at 3 months post-UFE, women reported a dramatic improvement in the number of both daytime and night-time voids and urinary-related quality of life.

These positive results have supported other research that has shown UFE to successfully treat common fibroid-related urinary symptoms. A small study published last year involving nine postmenopausal women with fibroids confirmed urinary frequency as the most common symptom reported (77.8%).2 After being treated with UFE, eight out of the nine women (88.9%) experienced complete resolution of their fibroid symptoms.

A common growth of the female reproductive system, uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus. Studies show that by age 50, around three out of four women will develop fibroids, with African American women being disproportionately affected.3 Most women who have fibroids will never experience symptoms. But those who do aren’t strangers to heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, pelvic pain and pressure, painful intercourse, and bothersome feelings of urinary urgency and frequency.

How does UFE treat these symptoms?

UFE works by blocking blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink over time and symptoms to resolve in approximately 90% of cases.4 In comparison to surgical options like hysterectomy that removes the entire uterus, UFE is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure associated with fewer major complications and a shorter recovery time.5 What’s more, it’s considered a safe and established treatment option that’s covered by most health insurance plans.

If you’re experiencing fibroid-related urinary symptoms and want to learn more about UFE, contact an interventional radiologist near you and discover how it can help you find relief.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli is a Freelance Writer and Editor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad, and volunteering in her community. She is a paid consultant of Merit Medical.

REFERENCES

  1. Shveiky, D., Iglesia, C. B., Antosh, D. D., et al. (2013). The effect of uterine fibroid embolization on lower urinary tract symptoms. Int Urogynecol J, Aug; 24(8): 1341-1345.
  2. Lee, S. J., Kim, M. D., Kim, G. M. (2016). Uterine artery embolization for symptomatic fibroids in postmenopausal women. Clin Imaging, Jan-Feb; 40(1): 106-109.
  3. Baird, D. D., Dunson, D. B., Hill, M. C., et al. (2003). High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence.Am J Obstet Gynecol, Jan; 188(1), 100–107.
  4. McLucas, B., Voorhees, W. D., & Elliott, S. (2016). Fertility after uterine artery embolization: a review. Minim Invasive Ther Allied Technol, 25(1): 1-7.
  5. Ruuskanen, A., Hippeläinen, M., Sipola, P., et al. (2010). Uterine artery embolization versus hysterectomy for leiomyomas: primary and 2-year follow-up results of a randomised prospective clinical trial. Eur Radiol, Oct; 20(10): 2524-2532.
The New Word of Mouth: How the Internet Can Help You Find the Right Doctor

It’s no secret. We look to each other for advice. As women, girl talk is considered sacred and the Internet has widened this sisterhood. With the presence of online reviews, we can find the best yoga studio, avoid a bad haircut, and hire a trustworthy mechanic all in a day’s work. And it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to finding the right doctor—especially when you’re looking for fibroid care.

“It’s often a challenge for patients to try to find doctors on their own who they know are up to date with technological advancements in the healthcare field,” says Dr. Todd Harris, Surgeon and Fibroid Specialist at The Fibroid Treatment Center in Newport Beach, Calif., and Founder of The Fibroid Treatment Network. “Initially review sites were focused around businesses like restaurants, but fortunately that has continued to trickle down to physicians.”

The impact that online patient reviews have on patient choice was demonstrated in a Software Advice 2013-2014 survey. Out of 1,438 US patients asked, 84% reported using online reviews to evaluate doctors, 77% use online reviews as the first step to finding a new doctor, and nearly half would go out-of-network to see a doctor who had more favorable reviews—even if an in-network doctor with similar qualifications was available.1

But patient-generated reviews are only one piece of the puzzle. The same survey found that 60% of respondents felt it was “very” or “moderately important” for doctors to respond to online reviews.1 “A patient should also look for doctors who constructively respond to these online conversations—whether the feedback is positive or negative,” Dr. Harris explains. “A doctor who encourages patients to engage is going to be trustworthy and wants to share his or her work with the online community.”

Willingness for full-disclosure can especially be noticed when visiting a doctor’s website. According to Dr. Harris, offering a wide range of online patient education is “by far the biggest and most important first step in building trust between a doctor and prospective patients.” Because there’s never one correct treatment for every patient, Dr. Harris believes “offering education inevitably results in each woman making the right choice.” In addition to transparent patient reviews, women should keep an eye out for doctors who provide educational components such as online videos, researched blogs, open collaboration with other doctors, and patient testimonials.

“Using the power of the Internet has revolutionized a woman’s ability to find doctors who provide the entire spectrum of care,” Dr. Harris tells Ask4UFE. “Because of the variability in education and physician skill level, nowhere is it more important than fibroid care to use the Internet to your advantage.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli is a Freelance Writer and Editor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad, and volunteering in her community. She is a paid consultant of Merit Medical.

ABOUT THE DOCTOR  Todd S. Harris, MD, is Medical Director of The Fibroid Treatment Center. Board certified in General Surgery, as well as fellowship trained in Interventional Radiology, Dr. Harris is highly experienced in Fibroid Surgery. Respected by both patients and doctors, Dr. Harris was awarded the prestigious 2017 Physician of Excellence Award by the Orange County Medical Association and published by Orange Coast Magazine. He was also awarded the rare and esteemed 2016 Southern California Super Doctors Rising Stars Award. Dr. Harris is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, one of the highest distinctions for a surgeon. Dr. Harris shares his knowledge and expertise by actively engaging in research and participating in volunteer work around the globe.

REFERENCES

  1. Loria, G. (2017). How Patients Use Online Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/how-patients-use-online-reviews/