New Treatment For Fibroids

Widespread Pain

The most common type of pelvic tumor found in women is uterine fibroids. While they are not usually cancerous, they do bring with them a wide variety of symptoms that can make life less than rosy. Excessive bleeding, abdominal pain, pain during intercourse, and in some cases, pregnancy loss, are all associated with fibroid tumors. With nearly 30 percent of women over the age of 35 experiencing fibroid problems, it is little wonder that 200,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States alone to deal with the issue. Yet, most women with fibroids suffer silently with the pain and discomfort.

Traditional Hormone Therapy

Treatment for fibroids has traditionally revolved around surgery or hormonal therapy. Since fibroids grow in response to the hormone estrogen, an anti-estrogen hormone is given to counteract the estrogen. Most frequently, the counter-hormone is progesterone, which can cause the tumors to shrink. The result is that symptoms diminish significantly. The downside of hormonal treatment is the possible side effects, including symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis. Because of these side effects, hormonal therapy is suitable for short periods and then it must be discontinued. Sadly, once it is discontinued, the fibroid symptoms usually recur. The best use of hormone therapy is the method of shrinking the tumors prior to surgery.

Take The Fibroids Or Take It All

Surgery for fibroids has been the most common way of dealing with them. Hysterectomy is the total removal of the uterus and may include removal of the ovaries as well, but not necessarily. It is possible to remove the uterus through the vagina. However, if the tumors are very large, then an incision is made in the abdominal wall and the organs are removed in that manner. This is considered major surgery requiring hospitalization, sometimes for several days, and a six-week recovery period. The other type of surgery is called myomectomy. It involves removing only the fibroid, leaving the reproductive organs intact, thus preserving the potential for pregnancy. Frequently done by laparoscope, it can be effective. If the tumors are large, then an incision is made to remove them. Sometimes, during the course of the surgery, uncontrolled heavy bleeding occurs and a full hysterectomy is the outcome. Myomectomy is effective in about 30 percent of women who have the surgery and offers only temporary relief because the smaller tumors continue to grow.

Uterine Artery Embolization-An Effective Treatment

A new type of treatment, originally used as a means of stopping uncontrollable bleeding from the uterus due to cancer, has provided excellent results in the treatment of fibroids. Uterine artery embolization is a procedure done with tiny catheters and medical imagining techniques. Blood vessels are blocked from the inside thus starving the fibroids and causing them to shrink. A catheter is inserted into the groin or the left arm of the woman and guided into the uterine arteries. Once in place, little pellets of a synthetic compound are carried by the flow of blood into the uterus and into all of the fibroids present. The very small arteries are blocked causing a cessation of blood flow to the fibroids. The fibroids die and are slowly removed naturally from the body. The procedure has proven to be extremely effective and durable with significant improvement or resolution of the symptoms in more than 75 percent of women treated with uterine artery embolization.

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