“I’m through having children, but I’m not through with my uterus! Is there any treatment of fibroids without surgery?”
This is what a patient told me recently as to why she was in my office for a second opinion. She was a typical patient that I encounter every day in my practice at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. She was African-American, in her late thirties, had three children, and was suffering miserably for years with uterine fibroids.
She was told by her Gynecologist that her only treatment option was a partial hysterectomy. She asked if there was anything less invasive and her Gynecologist said no. The Gynecologist was actually surprised that she wasn’t interested in a hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy: Ending Fibroids, Starting New Problems
Hysterectomy is the 2nd most common surgery performed in the United States even though half of the population aren’t eligible for the procedure (i.e. they’re men without a uterus). The most common reason why hysterectomy is performed is not for uterine cancer which would be appropriate. It is most commonly performed for benign uterine fibroids.
The average age of the women undergoing hysterectomy is <40 years of age, and I have met way too many young women <30 years of age who had already had a hysterectomy for fibroids. None of these women wanted a hysterectomy, but they were suffering terribly and were not given any other treatment option.
A study from Northwestern (1) revealed only 10% of symptomatic fibroid patients were told about nonsurgical alternatives to hysterectomy.
While hysterectomy does end the problems associated with fibroids, it often creates new problems for these women. Women who undergo hysterectomy often struggle psychologically like a man being castrated. There is a lot of sexual dysfunction as well (e.g. loss of libido, loss of orgasm). There is significant bone loss post-hysterectomy and it appears that there is also an increased cardiovascular risk (i.e. increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke). This cardiovascular risk increases for women under 50 and recalls that the average age for these women is ~10 years younger than this.
What If There Was Treatment of Fibroids Without Surgery?
What if there was a way to get relief from the miserable fibroid symptoms without undergoing any surgery, need any hospital, or general anesthesia, and be able to keep your uterus? What if this nonsurgical, outpatient procedure had a 25-year track record of safety and efficacy? What if the governing board of Gynecologists (i.e. the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists) had approved the procedure many years ago and this procedure was covered by every major insurance carrier, including Medicare & Medicaid?
There is such a procedure and it is called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (or Uterine Artery Embolization). UFE is one of the biggest medical breakthroughs that most women have never heard of, largely because their Gynecologists failed to mention it to them. This is a great disservice to women, particularly African-American women who disproportionately suffer from fibroids. African-American women not only get fibroids more frequently than other racial groups, but they also get them earlier in life, and the fibroids are bigger and more numerous. This combination results in a lot of unnecessary hysterectomies in very young, African-American women.
This is one of many racial disparities, but one that can be addressed with education, appropriate models for research, and sharing of information. To that end, Vice-President Harris (when she was in the Senate) and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke have introduced HR 2007 The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Fibroid Research & Education Act of 2021. It funds much-needed research on where fibroids come from, along with educating healthcare providers and the public on the treatment of fibroids without surgery like UFE.
If you’re suffering from uterine fibroids, no matter what your Gynecologist tells you, get a 2nd opinion. UFE treats all of the fibroids in the uterus, whether you have 1 or 100. Over 90% of patients find the relief of symptoms they’re looking for. Compared to hysterectomy, UFE is safer, less invasive, less expensive, has a much shorter recovery time, you get to keep your uterus, and perhaps even have children!
Learn more about UFE at ATLii.com or call to make an appointment to see us at 770-953-2600. #DontLoseUrU #UFE #HR2007.