If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids or suspect you might have them, you’ve probably looked into treatments. You’ve heard words like hysterectomy, myomectomy, and uterine fibroid embolization tossed around.
But what exactly are all of these treatments? It’s time to find out all the details of one in particular: a myomectomy.
What is a myomectomy?
In short, a myomectomy is a surgical procedure used to cut out uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle lining of the uterus. Since it does not involve the full removal of the uterus, in many cases it is possible for the woman to preserve or improve fertility with a myomectomy.
There are several different types of myomectomy. The size and location of the fibroids determine which type will be used.
- Hysteroscopy, in which a lighted instrument is inserted through the vagina and guided into the uterus. This is used for small fibroids on the inside of the uterus that are not deeply embedded in the uterine wall.
- Laparoscopy, where a lighted viewing instrument is used along with several incisions in the wall of the abdomen. Laparoscopy is used for small fibroids that have grown on the outside of the uterus.
- Laparotomy, which involves a larger incision in the abdomen and is used to remove large fibroids, those that have grown deep into the uterine wall, or multiple fibroids.
Are there any risks?
Myomectomy is typically a low-risk treatment. However, as with any surgical procedure, there can be complications.
- Extreme blood loss. If you’ve been losing a lot of blood due to fibroid symptoms, you may be at a higher risk of complications due to blood loss. Talk to your doctor about it and he or she may have ways to increase your blood count before the surgery.
- Childbirth complications. While many women have a myomectomy to preserve or increase fertility, the incisions made during a myomectomy may cause problems during delivery. Your doctor may recommend a C-section to avoid rupturing the uterus.
- Scar tissue. In rare cases, bands of scar tissue known as adhesions may form after the surgery. It is possible for adhesions to form inside or outside the uterus, which can lead to fertility problems or block a fallopian tube.
- Chance of hysterectomy. If the surgeon finds abnormalities in addition to fibroids during the surgery, or bleeding is uncontrollable, he or she may have to remove the uterus. However, this only happens in very rare cases.
How do I prepare?
The most important thing to do when preparing for any surgery is to follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. Tell him or her about any medications or supplements you are already taking, and make sure to follow the doctor’s advice on how long before the procedure to stop eating and drinking.
You should ask your doctor what you can expect during and after the myomectomy, including the types of anesthesia and pain medication you will receive. It’s good to ask if there are any actions you can take to avoid any potential complications.
Lastly, make sure you plan for someone to accompany you on the day of the surgery or pick you up from the hospital. You may also need to plan to stay for a night or a few days, depending on the type of myomectomy.
What can I expect after myomectomy?
Depending on the type of procedure you have, your recovery time may vary. Recovery time from a hysteroscopy is typically less than a week, while laparoscopy is usually two to three weeks, and laparotomy is four to six weeks.
You may need to avoid certain activities for a few weeks as well, such as sexual intercourse or exercise. Your doctor will let you know, and may recommend avoiding tampons during recovery. You may have some vaginal spotting following the procedure.
As far as results go, you should experience a decrease in fibroid symptoms, including excessive bleeding and pelvic pain. Fertility may also be improved. Although there are many factors that influence fertility, often women who plan pregnancy after the procedure get pregnant within one year.
If you’re interested in learning more about myomectomy and other treatments available for uterine fibroids, visit the treatment options page of our website.
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.