Uterine fibroids are growths that can develop in the wall of the uterus. They are not cancerous. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women, including pain and heavy bleeding.
The risk factors for fibroids include:
- Over age 40
- African American race
- Family history of uterine fibroids
- High blood pressure
- Low levels of vitamin D
- No history of pregnancy
Uterine fibroid embolization cuts off the blood supply to uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink and symptoms to subside. Fibroids eventually die. This procedure can prevent the need for a hysterectomy, allowing patients a much faster recovery.
The same procedure can be used to stop life-threatening postpartum bleeding; in these cases it is known as uterine artery embolization.
Studies have shown that uterine fibroid embolization is safe and effective. The American College of Gynecology states that the procedure is “a safe and effective option” for the treatment of uterine fibroids. And many insurance plans cover it.
Common Questions About Uterine Fibroid Embolization::
Will this procedure require hospitilization?
- This procedure typically requires an overnight stay in the hospital for pain control.
Will I have pain following the procedure?
- Pelvic discomfort can be severe the day of and night of procedure. You will have a way
- to give yourself pain medication on demand as needed. Most patients can control their
- pain with oral medications by mid-morning the day following the procedure. Our goal is
- to discharge you by noon the day after procedure.
What do I have to do to be discharged from the hospital?
- You must pass urine after your urinary catheter is removed.
- You must be able to eat and drink without vomiting.
- Your pain must be under control with oral medications before discharge. We do not expect you to be pain free at the time of discharge. We expect you to take up to 10 days to be totally pain free.
Will I still have a period?
- The first menses after procedure can come early, on time, or may be delayed. It may be
just as heavy or heavier than your usual. It is common for our patients to need two to
three one with fewer bleeding days, a lighter flow and less clots.
- You will likely have clear, tan, or pink discharge for up to a month following the procedure. As long as there isn’t a foul odor you do not need to worry about this. If a foul odor occurs, please call VIVA to report this.
What happens to my fibroids after the procedure?
- The fibroids will slowly shrink after the procedure. In the 6 months following the
procedure they will become ½ of the original size. Some patients will pass small pieces
of fibroid tissue after the procedure as the fibroids waste away.
Do I have any activity restriction after the procedure?
- You should limit heavy lifting (over 25 pounds) for about 5 days due to the small incision in your hip area.
- We request nothing be placed in your vagina for 7 days after procedure. This includes tampons, douche and intercourse.
- You should not drive while you are on narcotics.
What medications will I have to take after I go home?
- Pain Medication- The primary pain medication when you go home should be ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). You should take this 3 times daily with food as prescribed. If you have pain while taking the ibuprofen you may take the narcotic provided as prescribed. You should continue the ibuprofen for 1 ½ to 2 weeks to treat the inflammation caused by the procedure.
- Antibiotic-to prevent infection
- Stool Softener-to help with changes your bowels as a result of the pain medications you received during and after the procedure.
- Nausea medication-as needed.
What are the most common signs of complication?
- Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t go away with medications.
- Fever over 101.5
- Vaginal discharge with a foul odor.
When should I return to the clinic?
- 6-8 weeks following the procedure or sooner if any questions or concerns arise.
Virginia Vascular and Interventional Associates
Society of Interventional Radiology