What Is Your Period Telling You: A Flowchart

what is your period telling you

You may not think about it this way, but every month, your period is sending you signals. They may be signals that your body is healthy, and everything is as it should be—but the signals may also show that something is wrong.

Find out what your period may be telling you with this flowchart.

Period flowchart

No matter what, everyone is different, so it’s important to have regular check-ups with your gynecologist to discuss your personal health history and find a care plan that’s right for you.

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.

UFE Just Keeps Getting Better and Better. Here’s Why.
Alicia Armeli

You’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, and you’ve been given one option: hysterectomy. Thirty years ago, this scenario would be a common nightmare turned reality for women suffering with fibroid-related symptoms.

Fortunately, other minimally invasive treatment options have emerged. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is one such option. Since introduced within the US in 1997 as a novel approach to treating fibroids, UFE has improved dramatically. From better tools to improved pain management, UFE continues to be a non-surgical, safe, and effective fibroid treatment option.

Unlike surgery, UFE requires nothing more than a small nick made in the wrist or groin area. A doctor called an interventional radiologist inserts a slim tube called a catheter and guides it to the uterine arteries. Tiny particles called embolic are then delivered through the catheter to block the blood flowing to the fibroids. Once deprived of blood, fibroids begin to shrink, relieving symptoms like heavy periods, pelvic pain, and urinary frequency for 90% of patients.1

Since its debut more than 20 years ago, UFE has continued to progress. Technological advancements of materials and tools used during the procedure have benefited both physicians and patients.

One area of UFE that has progressed by leaps and bounds has been that of the embolic material used. Initially, doctors only had two main choices: non-spherical polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles and gelatin sponge. But these products seemed to come up short. Non-spherical PVA particles differed in size, making it difficult to use. Challenges like uncontrolled embolization during UFE and clogged catheters were common.2,3 The other option, gelatin sponge, was time consuming for doctors to prepare and trying to achieve same-size gel foam particles wasn’t easy.3

Given these setbacks, it was time for a next generation embolic. This led to the launch of Embosphere Microspheres, a spherical embolic that—to this day—is the most studied and clinically used embolic. It’s also considered the standard of care for UFE.4

What makes it different? Embosphere Microspheres particles are round and uniform in shape, giving doctors more control when treating women with UFE. Research has shown that all or nearly all (90% or more) of fibroid blood vessels are successfully blocked in 96% of UFE patients treated with Embosphere.5 This level of treatment is important because it has been shown to result in long-term clinical success and a lower rate of retreatment.6,7,8

Advances in imaging techniques have also made UFE an excellent approach to fibroid treatment. Ultrasound has generally been used to diagnose fibroids, but over time other imaging techniques have been proven to be more accurate. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the current primary choice among interventional radiologists, provides information that ultrasound can’t. Studies have shown it to be better than ultrasound when it comes to observing uterine size, fibroid location, and number of fibroids.9,10 These pieces of information are important when determining if a woman is a good candidate for UFE and ruling out other causes of pelvic pain and bleeding.9

Managing pain during and after the procedure has also improved. “There have been several technical changes over the years to improve the UFE patient experience,” says Dr. Keith Pereira, assistant professor in the Division of Vascular & Interventional Radiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a minimally invasive specialist at Saint Louis University Care Physician Group in Saint Louis, Mo., “During the procedure, we use a ‘flip of the wrist approach.’ This involves performing the entire procedure via a tiny pinhole in the artery in the wrist rather than the traditional approach through the groin. Patients are able to walk home with just a band-aid on their wrist.”

To counteract any discomfort felt after the procedure, Dr. Pereira describes applying a nerve block. “We use a temporary nerve block around the uterus for managing post-procedure pain. By numbing the nerves closest to the uterus, we’re able to offer patients pain-free UFE.”

Because of changes like these, Dr. Pereira explains that UFE has gone from being an inpatient procedure to an entirely outpatient procedure. “At our practice, no patient in the last year and a half has stayed more than three hours after a procedure. For example, a patient comes in skipping breakfast but goes home early enough to have lunch,” Dr. Pereira continues. “It has been a truly positive experience for our patients.”

Last but certainly not least, women can give themselves a pat on the back. By doing personal research, informing other women, and demanding better care, women have been a catalyst for change.

“Over the past ten years or so, we’ve had a renaissance of minimally invasive fibroid treatments, including UFE, that have made it possible for women to find relief without surgery,” says Dr. Todd Harris, surgeon and fibroid specialist at The Fibroid Treatment Center in Newport Beach, Calif., and founder of The Fibroid Treatment Network. “Online education has revolutionized the ability for women to find doctors who provide the entire spectrum of care or who are willing to refer out to other doctors to make sure they get the treatment they need.”

This progress demonstrates significant steps forward in fibroid care and women’s health. We’re looking forward to even more improvements being made in the years to come.



Keith Pereira, MD, is assistant professor in the Department of Radiology, Division of Vascular & Interventional Radiology, at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a minimally invasive specialist at Saint Louis University Care Physician Group. Besides being among the first to perform UFE via the radial artery in the wrist and combining this with the uterine nerve block, he uses minimally invasive, non-surgical procedures to treat conditions like blocked arteries and veins in the legs, prostate enlargement in men, and liver and kidney cancer.

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. Dr. Harris shares his knowledge and expertise by actively engaging in research and participating in volunteer work around the globe.


  1. Silberzweig, J. E., Powell, D. K., Matsumoto, A. H., et al. (2016). Management of uterine fibroids: a focus on uterine-sparing interventional techniques. Radiology, Sep;280(3):675-692.
  2. Pelage, J., Laurent, A., Wassef, M., et al. (2002). Uterine artery embolization in sheep: Comparison of acute effects with polyvinyl alcohol particles and calibrated microspheres. Radiology, Aug;224(2):436-445.
  3. Worthington-Kirsch, R. (2008, Jun). Do Particle Size and Type Matter? Endovascular Today.
  4. Siskin, G. (2016). Mastering Embolic Choices in UFE: Current Evidence. Global Embolization Cancer Symposium Technologies. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.gestweb.org/symposium/images/Presentations/am1050_SiskinDr_Embolic_Thursday.pdf
  5. Duvnjak, S., Ravn, P., Green, A., et al. (2017). Assessment of uterine fibroid infarction after embolization with tris-acryl gelatin microspheres. Cogent Med, Aug;4(1):1360543.
  6. Katsumori, T., Kasahara, T., Kin, Y., et al. (2008). Infarction of uterine fibroids after embolization: Relationship between postprocedural enhanced MRI findings and long-term clinical outcomes. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol, Jan-Feb;31(1):66–72.
  7. Koesters, C., Powerski, M. J., Froeling, V., et al. (2012). Uterine artery embolization in single symptomatic leiomyoma: Do anatomical imaging criteria predict clinical presentation and long-term outcome? Acta Radiol, May;55(4):441–449.
  8. Kroencke, T. J., Scheurig, C., Poellinger, A., et al. (2010). Uterine artery embolization for leiomyomas: Percentage of infarction predicts clinical outcome. Radiology, Jun;255(3):834–841.
  9. Gonsalves, C. (2008). Uterine artery embolization for treatment of symptomatic fibroids. Semin Intervent Radiol, Dec;25(4):369-377.
  10. Spielmann, A. L., Keogh, C., Forster, B. B., et al. (2006). Comparison of MRI and sonography in the preliminary evaluation for fibroid embolization. AJR Am J Roentgenol, Dec;187(6):1499-504.

For more information please refer to Instructions for Use. Consult product labels for any indications, contraindications, potential complications, warnings, precautions and directions for use. Dr. Siskin is a paid consultant of Merit Medical Systems, Inc.

Choosing the Best Fibroid Treatment Option for You
By Alicia Armeli


Being diagnosed with uterine fibroids may be overwhelming. But fortunately, you have options—and lots of them. From pharmaceutical treatments to surgery, and less-invasive options in between, a woman has much to choose from.


Pharmaceutical Treatment 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, can reduce menstrual flow by 25-30 percent and lessen cramping.1 Hormonal birth control options2,3 like the pill, patch, vaginal ring, injections, and intrauterine devices have also been found to reduce bleeding—but not fibroid size. Iron supplementation1 may be needed to combat anemia that can result from heavy periods. Although some of these options are available over-the-counter, use and duration of therapy should be discussed with your doctor first.

GnRH-a Therapy 

GnRH-a, or Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue therapy, may be used to shrink fibroids and reduce menstrual bleeding. Fibroid symptoms may cease when starting therapy but will return once treatment stops.

GnRH-a therapy preserves the uterus but has been linked to causing menopausal-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, decreased sex drive, spotting, fatigue, depression, and bone loss.4 For this reason, it’s commonly used as a short-term option to shrink fibroids before their surgical removal.2

MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) 

Also known as high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU, this procedure uses ultrasound waves to penetrate the abdominal wall and heat fibroid tissue causing it to shrink by up to 54 percent one year after the procedure, according to research.5

This uterus and fertility-sparing option can take several hours to complete but is associated with less than one week of recovery time and minimal discomfort.

The success of MRgFUS depends on fibroid location since it’s most effective at treating small fibroids located near the uterine surface. A risk of fibroid recurrence exists and more than one procedure may be needed.


Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Performed by an interventional radiologist, UFE is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical option that shrinks fibroids.

The physician makes a small incision in the upper thigh or wrist to access the arteries providing blood to the fibroids. Tiny spheres called embolics are injected into the arteries, blocking the blood flow, causing the fibroids to shrink and die. After the procedure, cramping and flu-like symptoms may occur, but can be treated and typically subside after 12 hours.6 Women can return to normal activity, on average, within 11 days. UFE has a 90 percent cure rate of symptoms7 and is effective treating fibroids of all sizes, but risk of recurrence does exist, in some cases warranting further rounds of treatment.

Endometrial Ablation 

Endometrial ablation destroys the lining of the uterus with the goal of reducing heavy menstrual bleeding. By inserting tools into the uterus through the vagina, ablation methods include radiofrequency, freezing, heated fluid, microwave energy, and electrosurgery.8 Since the lining is targeted, this option effectively treats submucosal fibroids that measure less than one inch in diameter. Since endometrial ablation doesn’t reduce fibroid size, it doesn’t treat symptoms related to fibroid bulk such as pain, pressure, or urinary incontinence.

Abnormal bleeding can recur and additional procedures may be needed. Although uterus-sparing, women who wish to become pregnant should avoid this procedure.

Radiofrequency Ablation 

Performed laparoscopically and as an outpatient procedure, radiofrequency ablation works by inserting a needle-probe into the middle of each fibroid. Heat is delivered through the probe, destroying and shrinking fibroid tissue.

Recovery time is minimal with women reportedly returning to work in less than a week. The procedure may take several hours and there’s a risk of fibroid recurrence. However, studies indicate a high rate of patient satisfaction, significant reductions in symptom severity, and an increase in quality of life.9



Myomectomy, or the surgical removal of fibroids, has been considered the go-to treatment for women wanting to alleviate symptoms while still maintaining their fertility. Surgical methods include hysteroscopic, laparoscopic (including robotic), and abdominal. Risks include those associated with surgery, including extensive blood loss and scar tissue. Recovery time can last up to six weeks and fibroids may recur, requiring more surgery over time.


A hysterectomy surgically removes the entire uterus and is an option for women who no longer wish to conceive. Doing so leads to permanent symptom relief but other side effects such as pelvic and back pain, sexual dysfunction, and incontinence. Side effects may intensify with ovary removal.

As seen with myomectomy, additional risks include those linked with surgery and general anesthesia. Different types of hysterectomy are available and differ depending on whether other structures surrounding the uterus are also removed. Recovery time averages between two and six weeks.

And what if you don’t have symptoms? The best option may be to simply monitor your fibroids under the supervision of your doctor.

In the end, the best decision a woman can make regarding her fibroid treatment is one she’s made with confidence and a well-informed mind.



1. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. (2013). Very Heavy Menstrual Flow. Retrieved January 8, 2015, from http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/resources/very-heavy-menstrual-flow

2. Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., & Gupta, J. (2014). Uterine fibroids: current perspectives. International Journal of Women’s Health, 6: 95-114. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S51083

3. Zapata, L. B., Whiteman, M. K., Tepper, N. K., Jamieson, D. J., Marchbanks, P. A., & Curtis, K. M. (2010). Intrauterine device use among women with uterine fibroids: a systematic review. Contraception, 82(1): 41-55. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2010.02.011

4. Magon, N. (2011). Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists: expanding vistas. Indian Journal of Endocrinology ad Metabolism, 15(4): 261-267. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.85575

5. Bohlmann, M. K., Hoellen, F., Hunold, P., & David, M. (2014). High-intensity focused ultrasound ablation of uterine fibroids-potential impact on fertility and pregnancy outcome. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd, 74(2): 139-145.doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1360311

6. Spencer, E. B., Stratil, P., & Mizones, H. (2013). Clinical and periprocedural pain management for uterine artery embolization. Seminars in Interventional Radiology, 30(4): 354-363. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1359729

7. McLucas, B., Voorhees Iii, W. D., & Elliott, S. (2015). Fertility after uterine artery embolization: a review. Minimally Invasive Therapy & Allied Technologies, 2: 1-7.

8. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2013). Endometrial Ablation. Retrieved January 8, 2015, from https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq134.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20160114T2053317542 

9. Chudnoff, S. G., Berman, J. M., Levine, D. J., Harris, M., Guido, R. S., & Banks, E. (2013). Outpatient procedure for the treatment and relief of symptomatic uterine myomas. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 121(5): 1075-1082. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31828b796

5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About UFE

As you’re considering how to treat your uterine fibroids, you probably want to know the details of all the different options: how to prepare, what to expect during the procedure, and how recovery will be.

With uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), it’s no different. You know the pros and cons, but you want to learn more, and the best place to find the answers is with the interventional radiologist who will be performing the procedure. Use these five questions to get the conversation started.

5 Questions

1. How often is the procedure successful?

The particles used in UFE are inserted into the uterine artery, which supplies 99% of blood flow to the fibroids. When this blood supply is blocked, all of the fibroids are treated, meaning that the procedure will be successful.

Occasionally, the fibroid is getting enough blood from another source to stay alive. Normally, this will be identified and treated at the same time as the uterine artery, but if it is not identified, another procedure may be required.

However, as one doctor reported, the success rate is about 95-98% for good candidates of the procedure.

2. Are your patients happy with UFE?

The statistics show that around 90% of patients are satisfied at follow-up. Dr. Linda Hughes, an interventional radiologist in Miami, FL, puts it this way:

“Yes, typically patients are very happy with the procedure in terms of the short amount of time it take for the procedure itself, the short recovery time and how quickly they see results from the procedure.”

3. What are typical complications and how often do they occur?

With UFE, complications are very rare. As with any surgical procedure, infection is possible, but it happens with very few patients.

Other than infection, there is the risk of ovarian failure or premature menopause, which affect less than 2% of patients. If that were to occur, the patient would work with her gynecologist to begin hormone replacement if possible.

4. How long should I expect to be in recovery?

After the procedure, you will likely stay in the hospital for one night so the nurses and doctors can continue to monitor how you’re doing. You will experience moderate cramping in the pelvis for up to 6 hours after the procedure is performed.

Once you return home, you may be affected by “post-embolization syndrome,” which has been described by previous patients as flu-like symptoms – fatigue, fever, nausea, and achiness. This usually goes away in 3-5 days.

Most patients are able to return to work and light activities within 7-14 days, which differs from person to person. More strenuous activity should not be attempted until at least two weeks after the treatment.

5. Will my fibroids or symptoms come back?

Since UFE blocks the blood supply to all the fibroids, there is a very low chance that they will come back. If there is another source supplying the fibroids with blood, there is a possibility that they could continue to grow, but if so, that supply can be treated.

UFE shrinks the fibroids to 40-60% of their original size, so while they will likely remain, you will not experience any more painful and frustrating symptoms.

Learn more

Your conversation with your doctor shouldn’t stop here. To hear interventional radiologists’ answers to these questions and more, visit our Videos page.

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.

10 of the Best Quotes About Gratitude

In the craziness that everyday life can become, it’s easy to forget how much we’ve been blessed. The reality is, no matter what you’re going through, how busy you are, or how difficult things get, you can always find something to be grateful for.

Keep these ten quotes in mind next time you start feeling down. Pin them, share them, or tweet them so you don’t forget!





Things you want


Something wonderful




Enjoy simple


Always something


Start each day


Hardest climb


Struggle today


For more quotes like these, as well as health tips and information about uterine fibroids, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Uterine Fibroids Before 30 May Increase Risk for Early Onset Breast Cancer


Uterine fibroids are hormone-sensitive growths that develop in the uterine wall. And although noncancerous, a common concern for women with fibroids is whether they’re at risk for other hormone-responsive conditions like breast cancer.

A study published in Cancer Causes & Control showed that while having a history of uterine fibroids was unrelated to developing breast cancer overall, this might not be the case for younger women who were diagnosed with fibroids before age 30.1

A first in the field of fibroids and breast cancer research, the study was led by Lauren A. Wise, Sc.D., of Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University. With a team of researchers, Wise monitored over 57,000 women enrolled in the Black Women’s Health Study.

Through self-reported or physician diagnosed uterine fibroids and recorded incidences of breast cancer, their findings revealed that an early diagnosis of fibroids—before age 30—was associated with an elevated risk for both premenopausal breast cancer and early onset breast cancer.

“An association between tumors of the uterus and the breast via hormonal pathways is biologically plausible,” Dr. Wise and her team write. “Pathologies of the uterus and breast are associated with sex steroid hormones.”

One particular hormone called estradiol—a type of estrogen hormone—has been shown to promote growth in breast ducts and glands. Similarly, fibroid cells have estrogen-regulated hormone receptors, as well as estrogen levels that are higher in comparison to normal uterine tissue.

Progesterone, another sex hormone, encourages cell division in both normal breast tissue and uterine fibroid tissue. The authors speculate that the same hormonal pathways that contribute to fibroid growth may also make a woman more susceptible to estrogen-responsive breast cancers.

Uterine fibroids can be the cause of heavy periods, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence and are more prevalent in a woman’s 30s and 40s when estrogen levels tend to increase prior to the onset of menopause.

And like fibroids, breast cancer also seems to be age-related. Statistically, a woman at age 20 has a 0.06% risk of developing breast cancer within the next decade.2 At age 30, this rate jumps to 0.4% and nearly quadruples by age 40.2 African American women are at a higher risk for both premenopausal breast cancer and early-diagnosed fibroids.2

Although more studies are needed to confirm the relationship between fibroids and breast cancer, because of its potential link, it’s important for women to talk to their doctors about their own personal risk.


  1. Wise, L. A., Radin, R. G., Rosenberg, L., & Adams-Campbell, L. (2015). History of uterine leiomyomata and incidence of breast cancer. Cancer Causes & Control, 26(10), 1487-1493. doi: 10.1007/s10552-015-0647-8
  1. Susan G. Komen. (2014). Breast Cancer In Women Younger Than 40. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from http://ww5.komen.org/KomenPerspectives/Breast-Cancer-in-Women-Younger-than-40.html
What Causes Fibroids?

Anywhere from 20-40% of women over the age of 35 may be affected by uterine fibroids—noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. With so many women affected, you may wonder if you’re one of them.

Although there is no definite cause for uterine fibroids, there are some factors that may increase the risk.


Fibroid growth is largely attributed to the levels of estrogen and progesterone being produced in the body. Estrogen makes the tumors grow and the fibroids themselves contain more hormone receptors than normal uterine muscle.

For this reason, fibroids usually stop growing and shrink once the body reaches menopause and stops producing as much estrogen. In the same way, fibroids often grow faster during the first trimester of pregnancy and then shrink after the birth.


If fibroids run in your family, evidence has shown that you may be more likely to get them yourself. Fibroids have changes in their genetic makeup that are not found in the other muscle in the lining of the uterus, and these changes may be passed down through family members.

If your mother has had fibroids, you are about three times more likely to be affected by them than someone without the genetic ties. In addition, it is more likely for identical twins to both have fibroids than non-identical twins.

Hair relaxers

Women who use hair relaxers may also be more likely to get fibroids. A study done on 23,000 African American women showed that using hair relaxers may be linked to uterine fibroids. More specifically, the scalp burns caused by the relaxers may increase the risk.

The use of hair relaxers has not been proven to cause fibroids. However, the study does show that women who use them have a higher incidence of uterine fibroids. They may also be linked to earlier puberty. Women who get their periods earlier in life may be more prone to fibroids as well.

Other factors

There are a few minor factors that may influence the prevalence and growth of fibroids. Other substances in the body could affect fibroid growth, such as those that help maintain tissues.

Diet and obesity may also be linked to fibroid growth. Very heavy women can be two or three times more likely to be affected by fibroids, and a poor diet can be detrimental as well. Eating dark, leafy greens can help lower the risk.

More information

If you think you may be at risk or affected by fibroids, you can learn more by reading our post How to Know If You Have Uterine Fibroids.

If you do have uterine fibroids and are looking for a solution, explore treatment options here.

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 drastic surgery but a less invasive treatment that can preserve your uterus and decrease painful fibroid-related symptoms.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognizes UFE as a viable fibroid treatment option. However, as with any medical procedure, UFE does have potential side effects, and it’s important for women to be completely informed to make the best decision for their care.


What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that are found in the muscle tissue of the uterus. Women with fibroids may show varied symptoms. These can include a heavy menstrual cycle, pelvic pain and/or pressure, and frequent urination.

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. If you don’t have symptoms, 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.


How does the UFE procedure work? 

UFE is performed by a doctor called an interventional radiologist (IR). It begins with a small incision in the groin area or the wrist which will enable the IR to access your arteries.

After this tiny cut is made, the IR will insert a small tube called a catheter into the artery and guide it through the blood vessels that lead to your fibroids.

Once the catheter reaches the fibroids, the IR will inject very small particles, called embolic agents, through the catheter. This will block off the blood flow that leads directly to the fibroids. After the fibroids are deprived of blood and oxygen, they begin to shrink and symptoms will subside. The small particles will stay there permanently.

After the IR has completed this process on both sides of your uterus, 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. UFE is typically performed as an outpatient procedure.


Possible Side Effects of UFE

Around 90% of all women are satisfied with UFE. However, there are potential 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 a fibroid tumor during 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

Read more about the risks associated with UFE.


Final thoughts

UFE is a minimally-invasive fibroid treatment option and is covered by most insurance companies. Explore the Ask4UFE site for more information and talk with your doctor to see if it’s the right treatment for you.


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.

Why Would Someone Need a Second UFE?

Uterine fibroids affect anywhere from 20-40% of women older than 35 years of age, and many of them are choosing to have uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) as treatment.

However, in rare cases, some women are finding it necessary to have more than one UFE procedure.

What is UFE?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. Though they do affect a large percentage of women, some do not show any symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms often suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding and severe pelvic pain or pressure.

UFE is a procedure to treat fibroids. During UFE, which is performed by a doctor called an interventional radiologist, a small incision is made in the radial (wrist) or femoral artery (groin).

The doctor then guides a slim tube called a catheter through vessels to the uterine artery, where tiny particles called embolic material are injected and block the blood supply to the fibroid. Once the fibroid is no longer receiving blood, it will begin to die and shrink, reducing the painful and frustrating symptoms.

UFE is an outpatient procedure and recovery time is usually 7-10 days, after which you should be able to resume normal activities.

Are there any complications?

There are several risks and complications associated with UFE, although overall it is a safe procedure with minimal risk. Some of the potential complications include:

  • -Non-target embolization
  • -Transient amenorrhea, or absence of a menstrual period
  • -Vaginal discharge or infection
  • -Short-term allergic reaction or rash
  • -Premature menopause
  • -Post-embolization syndrome, which is typically a fever, some pain, and fatigue following the procedure
  • -Possible fibroid passage
  • -The effects on fertility and a woman’s ability to carry a child to term have not been determined

It is also possible that the first UFE treatment may not work to its full potential, and a second UFE would be required.

Why would I need a second UFE?

In general, approximately 90% of women who undergo UFE are satisfied with their treatment at follow-up. However, about 10-15% of women still experience symptoms and require other treatment. These additional procedures may be due to the failure of the first UFE to ease symptoms.

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about UFE and finding a doctor in your area who can perform the procedure, you can use the Find a UFE Specialist tool to help.

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 Do Fibroids Affect Sexual Intercourse?

Aside from the pain, heavy bleeding, and bloating that women with uterine fibroids often experience, another common worry surfaces—how it will affect sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, fibroids can present obstacles in the bedroom, but through treatment, a happy and fulfilling sex life is possible.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on or inside the walls of the uterus. The symptoms themselves that accompany fibroids may get in the way of sexual intercourse or make it unpleasant:

Heavy bleeding: Menstruating for longer than a week and bleeding between periods can make it difficult and even impossible to have sexual intercourse.

Pelvic pain: Pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen can make intercourse uncomfortable. Large tumors can put pressure on the walls of the uterus, causing pain. If a fibroid grows near the cervix at the end of the vaginal tract, intercourse can be very distressing.

Abdominal bloating: Depending on the size of the fibroids, the abdomen can become noticeably enlarged, even resembling pregnancy, which can interfere with sex.

Urinary incontinence and frequency: Feeling the need to urinate often can get in the way and make sex unappealing.

Because of these symptoms, another effect that fibroids may have is the loss of libido. Not surprisingly, the desire to have intercourse can be diminished when it becomes painful, with many women feeling it may not be worth the struggle.

Find more answers to your questions about fibroids and sex in this helpful FAQs page.

Learn More About Your Solutions

From minimally invasive to surgical, there are several fibroid treatment options that can improve and even eliminate the symptoms listed above. If you think you may have fibroids and your sex life is suffering, the best thing to do is talk to your gynecologist to help you decide which treatment option is best for you.

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.