Pregnancy And Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine artery embolization is becoming better known for its ability to treat the symptoms of uterine fibroids without surgery; however, there are still many misconceptions surrounding it. Some of the confusion lies with the lack of research and public education surrounding these growths, why they develop, and the long-term effects of the treatments offered.

Today we are going to talk about uterine artery embolization and pregnancy, which is one of the areas where there remains a significant amount of confusion. We will talk about fertility and pregnancy after uterine artery embolization and how UAE can also help women with adenomyosis who desire to have a baby.

How Do Uterine Fibroids And Adenomyosis Affect Fertility?

The benign tumors known as fibroids or myomas can interrupt a woman’s career, her social life, and even her ability to start a family. Adenomyosis is another condition that can cause reproductive issues and sometimes does not produce any visible symptoms, so it can be a challenging condition to diagnose in regards to infertility. To understand how pregnancy after uterine artery embolization is possible, it is important to understand how fibroids and adenomyosis hinder fertility.

Uterine myomas can grow in different locations in and on the uterus. They can be very small, like a grain of rice, or they can grow to be very big, like the size of a pumpkin. One of the largest myomas ever recorded weighed a whopping 140 pounds. They can block the path of sperm and eggs if they grow large enough and are strategically positioned to create a kink in the fallopian tubes. They can grow inside the muscular wall or within the uterine lining and distort its shape, making embryo implantation difficult or impossible. Fibroids can also take up valuable space, preventing the proper growth and development of a baby, and can even trigger a miscarriage, preterm labor, or complications during delivery.

Adenomyosis can change the shape of the uterus and cause the middle uterine layer to substantially thicken, making it almost impossible for a fertilized egg to implant or for the pregnancy to last. A study revealed that women with adenomyosis undergoing IVF treatments had a lower number of transferred embryos, were more likely to experience unsuccessful conception, and had a higher percentage of miscarriage.

Can You Have A Uterine Artery Embolization During Pregnancy?

No, UAE is not recommended during pregnancy, but if fibroids or adenomyosis are known issues, then performing UAE before attempting to become pregnant can boost the odds of achieving conception and carrying the pregnancy to term.

How Can Uterine Artery Embolization Improve Pregnancy Odds?

UAE is approximately 80% effective in treating adenomyosis and 90% effective in eliminating fibroid tumors. Both uterine myomas and adenomyosis require a viable blood source to remain alive. During the UAE procedure, an interventional radiologist who has been extensively trained uses imaging guidance to weave a tiny catheter, through an artery in your thigh to the arteries and blood vessels that are feeding these unwanted conditions.

Tiny particles are then injected through the catheter which travel down and become lodged in these vessels to cut off their much-needed supply of blood. Once their lifeline has been eliminated, they stop growing and begin to shrink down and die. As this occurs, any blockages that may have been issues can be resolved, the uterus can revert to a more normal shape and size, and growths that were disrupting the lining of the uterus may become a non-issue.

Can Women Experience Pregnancy After Uterine Artery Embolization?

Over the years, there have been many different opinions on the subject of UAE and fertility retention. Over 20 years ago, a study suggested that this procedure would diminish ovarian reserves. Another study conducted by researchers at the University of California in 2017 refuted this statement after their own study. They pointed out that the women who participated in the earlier study were all around 45 years of age. It is normal for ovarian reserves to decline during this time in a woman’s life. They concluded that the UAE procedure would not negatively impact fertility in women of reproductive age. This message needs to get out to women everywhere, and to medical professionals, and to those who communicate about the UAE procedure to others, as this continues to be an area that is misrepresented.

There have been numerous case reports and cohort studies conducted that record successful pregnancies, after undergoing uterine artery embolization.

One study reported that out of 108 women who had attempted pregnancy after UAE, approximately 34 achieved successful pregnancies and among these women were 14 who had experienced a failed myomectomy and had been told that a hysterectomy was their only other treatment option. Imagine if they had taken their OB/gyn’s word for it and had their uterus removed without doing their own research for alternative treatments. They would have never been able to experience motherhood.

At the Atlanta Fibroid Center, Dr. Lipman has an entire wall of baby pictures that prove that pregnancy after a UAE procedure is possible.

If you have adenomyosis or uterine fibroids and are looking for a fertility-sparing, non-surgical treatment, you need look no further. Contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center today to set up an appointment and find out if you are a suitable candidate for UAE.

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