Category: Treatment Options

4 Surprising Hysterectomy Side Effects

Hysterectomy causes major side effects, and they aren’t just menopause and infertility. Now, many women with fibroids think they need a hysterectomy—a surgical removal of the uterus. And some are told it’s the only way to relieve fibroid symptoms. But there are less invasive treatments available, like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This is a problem because, no matter what the reason, women who undergo hysterectomies face major surgery complications. And now, studies show that hysterectomy side effects may include mental and physical health struggles. We’ve already explored how hysterectomy side effects damage your heart health. So, today, we’ll explore this surgery impacts your memory and your anxiety levels.

How a Hysterectomy can Hurt Your Mental Health

Women’s risk for anxiety and depression increase after  hysterectomy, according to a study in the journal Menopause.

To reach this conclusion, researchers reviewed the medical records of 2,094 hysterectomy patients. For this study, none of those women had cancer. Next, they compared the records to those of same-aged women who hadn’t had a hysterectomy. And then they followed both groups for 22 years.

As it turns out, woman’s risk for depression relatively increased by 26 percent with hysterectomy. And the risk for anxiety increased by 22 percent after hysterectomy. Researchers discovered that age matters, too. In young women, who had a hysterectomy before 35, there was a 47 percent increased risk for depression. Also, the anxiety risk increased by 45 percent. Outside of cancer, the reason for the hysterectomy didn’t seem to impact the increased risk of mental health issues.

Female with Fibroids

According to lead study author, Dr. Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, “Hysterectomy is right for some women. But there is this 4 to 6 percent of women who will be affected by depression or anxiety. We’re hoping women will talk with their doctors and see if there’s any alternative they could use instead.”


Uterine Surgery May Interfere with Memory

Depression isn’t the only way hysterectomy may affect your brain function. According to a pre-human trial from Arizona State University, a hysterectomy could impact your memory. Now, if that sounds strange, it is. But here’s what we know: your ovaries and brain are connected.  So your estrogen and progesterone levels impact your memory. But we now know that your uterus is tied to your autonomic nervous system. Which means that losing your uterus could affect your cognitive ability.

In order to illustrate this fact, Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson studied rats before and after a hysterectomy. Allowing for 6 weeks of recovery time, the study tested their post-hysterectomy working memory. And here’s the bad news: after hysterectomy, rats couldn’t navigate a maze they used to complete. In comparison, rats who kept their uterus had no problem finishing the maze. In other words, losing their uterus directly impacted rat memory. Clearly, this study has troubling implications for human females.

Urinary Incontinence Added to List of Hysterectomy Side Effects

A new study reveals that urinary incontinence becomes a problem for many women after uterine removal surgery. In fact, 38% of women reported this problem after surgery. But they had no incontinence concerns before their hysterectomies.

Researchers for this study thought that the type of hysterectomy might make a difference on women’s bladder control after surgery. But that was not the case. Because, though participants were divided into groups by surgery type (laparoscopic hysterectomy (SLH), total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH), supervical abdominal hysterectomy (SH), or vaginal hysterectomy (VH)) they experienced incontinence at similar rates.

Myofascial Pain After Hysterectomy

And wait, there’s more! Research now links myofascial pelvic pain and hysterectomy! In fact, if you have pelvic pain prior to your hysterectomy, you’re more likely to need prescription opioid medications following surgery. And, as we know, these medications are highly addictive, and part of the growing opioid crisis in this country.

Now, this discovery is troubling. After all, many women choose hysterectomy because their fibroids trigger chronic pelvic pain. So, if the surgery actually makes pelvic pain worse, that could be a reason to seek other treatment options.


UFE: The non-surgical fibroid treatment option

Thankfully, many women with fibroids can find a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy in our Houston-area practice. Using imagine, catheters and an injection, we are able to cut off blood flow to your fibroids, which makes them shrink and, eventually, disappear. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, usually not involving a hospital stay.

If you have fibroids and are concerned about having a hysterectomy, reach out to our doctors. We can help you determine if UFE is the right treatment option for you.

Sources: Menopause, The New York Times, Journal of Endocrinology

#WCW: WWE Star Needs Alternatives to a Hysterectomy

Recently, we learned that WWE star Naomi had a myomectomy, and we wish she could have found other alternatives to a hysterectomy. The fierce wrestler announced on her Instagram: “In the midst of hurricane Sally and COVID I also underwent an unexpected 6 hour surgery to finally remove a massive fibroid that’s caused me severe anemia fatigue horrible abdominal pains and more problems I don’t even want to mention over the past year and a half. I’m recovering well. I’m relieved and already feeling so much better. So family and fans don’t worry, I’m ok. Lol, miss ya.” WWE Naomi Talks about alternatives to a hysterectomy

First, let’s be clear: we’re happy Naomi found relief. And we applaud her as our Woman Crush of the week for bravely sharing her story. But we also wish she’d learned about other options before her fibroid got so large. Because we believe that there need to be more alternatives to fibroid surgery in this country. Too many women with fibroids—non-cancerous tumors of the uterus—get hysterectomies (complete uterus removal). In fact, fibroids are the top reason women in the U.S. get hysterectomies. Because it’s such a serious surgery, many women opt for less invasive fibroid treatments. In our office, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a non-surgical treatment that shrinks your fibroids.

Oral and Minimally Invasive Alternatives to a Hysterectomy

Recently, the FDA approved a new oral medication for women with fibroids, that’s expected to be available later this month. Called Oriahnn, the pill combines estrogen, progestin, and elagolix (a gonadotropin-releasing hormone). It’s important to note that this pill doesn’t shrink your fibroids. Instead, it decreases fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding.

How effective is this pill? A recent study highlights the effects of elagolix, just one piece of the new drug’s puzzle.  Over the course of two and a half years, they followed 433 women who had fibroids and heavy menstrual bleeding. 67% of participating women were African American, since black women are disproportionately affected by fibroids.

oral alternatives to a hysterectomy

Women who took elagolix did get relief from heavy periods, but they also suffered hot flashes, night sweats, and bone loss. In contrast, 90% of the women who took a mix of elagolix, estradiol and norethindrone acetate (“add-back therapy”) experienced reduced blood loss, but with fewer side effects. The “Add-back” therapy combatted effects of stopping estrogen and progestin, as Oriahnn does. Some of these women saw their uterus size decrease. But their fibroids did not shrink.

Also, this pill won’t prevent pregnancy, even though it’s hormonal. And, studies note that taking the medication can cause long-term bone loss. Which means that you can’t take the pill for more than two years. That leads us to the question: what next? Unfortunately, once you stop taking this pill, your fibroid symptoms would return, sending you back to the start of your treatment journey. And, since they don’t want that journey to end in a hysterectomy, researchers at Michigan State University are trying to figure out why fibroids form in the first place. Because, in doing so, they hope to keep every woman from being pushed towards hysterectomy because of fibroid tumors.

Alternatives to a Hysterectomy: Stopping Menstruation with Medication

Another approach to managing heavy periods? Stopping your period with the help of an outside medication called goserelin. In some ways, this method is effective. By taking the drug, you can stop your period. So you can also stop blood loss, anemia and other fibroid-symptoms linked to heavy menstrual cycles.

But here’s the problem. A new study revealed that this approach hurts women more than it helps. Because, after just six months using this medication, most of the women developed osteoporosis. And the damage was irreversible.

Genes and Fibroids: The Newly Discovered Connection

In the course of this study, researchers at MSU’s College of Human Medicine discovered that HOXA13, a gene associated with fibroids, was connected to a process, known as homeotic transformation, that causes uterine muscle cells to turn into cells more typically found inside your cervix.

“It’s a cell type in a position where it doesn’t belong,” explained lead researcher Dr. Jose Teixeira said. “This was a surprise.”

Katy Fibroid Clinic
New research on fibroids could drastically reduce the number of women who are treated with hysterectomies.

But this discovery isn’t just informative: it could change the way we treat fibroids. Specifically, new treatments could target the chain of events that causes your cells to change. That way, you could treat existing tumors with less invasive treatments, such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Then, you could use molecular therapy to prevent any  new tumors from forming.

As Teixeira explains, “The discovery that fibroid tumors have characteristics of cervical cells could be a key to better treatments. For example, among pregnant women, the cervix typically softens just before delivery. Figuring out what causes the cervix to soften could suggest new therapies that soften the fibroid tumors and prevent or inhibit their growth.” And, if that works out, you could eliminate any hysterectomy discussions!

What’s Next for Fibroid Research?

While new therapies are still going to take a while, this research is already changing the way scientists study fibroids. Now, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding a follow-up fibroid study.  It’s focus? Texeira says he wants to discover: “Is there a place where we can intervene? That’s the follow-up. If we can find out what’s causing the cervical softening, then we might be able to investigate treatment.” And that could stop fibroid growth before a tumor ever forms.

Sources: Bleacher Report, Harvard Health, National Library of MedicineFDA.Gov, Cell Reports Journal

Can I Slow Fibroid Growth? Progesterone and Fibroids

Are you wondering about progesterone and fibroids? If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine tumors, you may want to slow fibroid growth. After all, many women with fibroids struggle to understand, Why did I get this kind of tumor? How fast will it grow? What can I do to slow down or stop the growth in my fibroids?

While we don’t know what causes women to develop fibroids, we have some clues about what increases your fibroid risk. In the past, people thought that vaginal infections could increase your risk for fibroids. But recent studies suggest that bacterial vaginosis or other infections don’t increase your odds of developing fibroids.

With one theory disproved, others remain. It’s clear that Black women develop fibroids more often than women of other races. And, while research is ongoing, we think that could be due to chemicals in hair products targeting Black women, as well as other environmental factors.

We also have an understanding of what these tumors are and what factors may increase your risk of developing fibroids. We also know certain factors that affect fibroid growth. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s start at the beginning, with a basic explanation of fibroids.

This x-ray reveals a fairly large uterine fibroid

What are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of your uterus. Fibroids can grow alone or in clusters; they vary in size, from microscopically small to rare cases where they grow to the size of fully-developed fetus.

Fibroid symptoms can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Bloating in the pelvic region
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Frequent need to pee

Fibroids and Progesterone What Can Speed Up Growth?

While your genes will play a role in how quickly fibroids grow, hormones like estrogen and progesterone also affect the growth of these tumors. Without these two hormones, fibroids are unable to grow which is why, in the past, causing a woman to experience menopause was considered the only cure for fibroids.

At the same time, some doctors think that progesterone and fibroids could help manage some fibroid symptoms. That’s especially true for the most common symptom: heavy menstrual periods. While trying to decide on more permanent treatment options, some women will take oral or injectable contraceptives to manage heavy periods. But many forms of birth control are progestins, which can increase progesterone levels. And, since fibroids and progesterone can be a dangerous combination, we now tell patients not to use progestins to manage fibroid symptoms.

So, we want to avoid major surgery. And we know that taking progestins could speed up fibroid growth. So, how can you slow fibroid growth, or get rid of them altogether? Thankfully, we can offer women less dramatic, more effective, treatment options.

How Big Will My Fibroids Become?

It’s difficult to know how big a fibroid tumor will become–growth varies from person to person, predict how big a fibroid will grow or what causes a fibroid to grow rapidly. In some cases, fibroids even disappear without treatment. This however, is not common: most fibroids will grow larger unless you opt for medical intervention.

So, just how big will your fibroids become? Honestly, the size limit is based only on your body’s ability to expand. Fibroids can stretch and enlarge your uterus to accommodate their own growth. In fact, some fibroids get so big that you appear to be in the second trimester of pregnancy!

In extreme cases, fibroids will grow so large that doctors can only treat them with surgery. For this reason, it’s important to begin researching fibroid treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis.

Can I Slow Fibroid Growth?

Certain steps, like adopting  a fibroid-friendly diet, may slow the growth of these tumors. Research suggests that dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream may inhibit fibroid development. Green tea has also been shown to slow fibroid growth and, in some cases, even kill off existing fibroid cells.

For some women, the hormones in certain forms of birth control can help slow fibroid development.

When it comes to interventions that simply slow down fibroid development, there are no guarantees…that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that we have better treatment options available. Instead of slowing fibroid growth, interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are able to use a method known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization to cut off the fibroid’s supply of blood and oxygen. This minimally invasive treatment causes fibroids to shrink and, eventually, die. Want to know if you’re a good candidate for UFE? Just reach out to our Houston area team and we’ll be happy to set you up with a comprehensive consultation.

What Does Uterine Fibroid Embolization Cost?

If you’re exploring fibroid treatments, you may wonder how much does uterine fibroid embolization cost? This non-surgical procedure is less invasive than surgical options. Plus, most women avoid overnight hospital stays with UFE. And, since you can usually return to work within 11 days of UFE, it may be a less costly option. Let’s take a closer look.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Cost: Insurance and CareCredit Uterine Fibroid Cost

As we mentioned, UFE can be less expensive than hysterectomy and myomectomy. (Those are the two main surgical treatments for fibroids.) It’s also less invasive, which means you’re likely to experience a faster post-procedure recovery, as well as fewer complications after treatment.

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no uterine fibroid embolization cost. So, to help you afford UFE, our Houston fibroid specialists accept most private insurance plans. We also work with Medicare. And we help you navigate the insurance process, so you understand the exact costs of your procedure before you receive treatment.

While insurance should cover the bulk of your costs, you may still need to meet your deductible. Alternatively or additionally, you may need to cover a co-pay or co-insurance bill. And we know that these bills may be challenging. So we also accept CareCredit, a special healthcare credit card that’s designed to help you cover the uterine fibroid embolization cost. (As well as the cost of other medical procedures.)

At this point, we hope you have a better idea of the financial cost of treating UFE. So let’s take a look at the cost of living with fibroids, by exploring the emotional and financial cost of living with these non-cancerous uterine growths.

Economic Cost of Fibroids

Yes, treating fibroids involves out-of-pocket expenses. But research reveals that living with them can also pull on your wallet. Here’s the story.

According to the CARE About Fibroids foundation, American women living with fibroids face an economic toll of about $17.2 billion because of missed workdays, lost job opportunities, and having to take short-term disability. Also, since fibroids can also impact your fertility, or lead to pregnancy complications, the cost doesn’t stop there. In fact, fibroid-related fertility issues cost up to $7.8 billion each year for coverage alone. And that doesn’t begin to reflect the emotional toll women face, especially women of color, who are disproportionately affected by fibroids.

How Fibroids Impact Your Life Female with Fibroids

Because fibroid symptoms impact your menstrual cycle and your sex life, the emotional toll can rival your physical discomfort. In fact, in one survey, 21% of women with fibroids said their condition interfered with family relationships and friendships. A whopping 52% of these women worried about their ability to have a sexual relationship.

Now, these figures focused on all women with fibroids, regardless of race. But Black women face an even tougher emotional road, and that’s a result of several factors. First, Black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than White women. (And their tumors develop at a younger average age: by the time they turn 24, at least 25% of Black women will have a fibroid.)

Next, Black women’s fibroids trigger more and worse symptoms. They develop pressure, swelling and bloating two times more frequently than white women. And when it comes to anemia, they’re three times more likely to develop this condition, often triggered by heavy periods.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Black women also face more hospitalizations for fibroids. And their resulting medical costs and number of surgeries are also higher than those White women face. On its own, this fact would be troubling. But it makes the next statistic even more concerning: 32% of women with fibroids delay seeking treatment. Meaning the cost of living with fibroids could easily and quickly equal the uterine fibroid embolization cost.

UFE Costs: Weighing Your Options

There are costs to seeking treatment for fibroids. And there are expenses and concerns that come when you live with fibroids. As a result, this is one of many choices you’ll face after a fibroids diagnosis. But we want you to know that you’re not alone in this process.

First, we want you to explore your treatment options. One-fifth of American women believe that hysterectomy is the only way to treat hysterectomy. But that’s simply not true. In fact, you can click here to see if you’re a good candidate for UFE.

Then, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team of fibroid specialists in Houston. (We even offer Telemedicine visits to save you some travel while you’re considering your treatment options.) Finally, after your visit, our billing team is here to help you understand exactly what your insurance will and won’t cover. We can suggest other ways to cover any out-of-pocket costs. And we make the process as stress-free as possible, so you can place all your focus on finally feeling better!

Narrowing Black Women’s Fibroid Treatment Gaps

When patients are black women, major fibroid treatment gaps often mean delayed diagnosis, worse symptoms and too many hysterectomies. Now, that’s a big problem. Because black women have a higher fibroid risk. In fact, by the time they’re in their 40s, almost 80% of black women will develop these non-cancerous tumors.  And, as a result, they often experience pain, heavy bleeding, anemia and other debilitating symptoms.

All too often, black women face delayed fibroid diagnoses. Then, once diagnosed, women of color often receive less comprehensive medical information. That means they’re less likely to learn about non-invasive fibroid treatment options. And more likely to undergo avoidable hysterectomies.

Already, efforts like the fibroid bill are trying to close these fibroid treatment gaps. And now, the state of New Jersey is joining the cause. That’s why, today, we’re highlighting the Garden state’s efforts to improve black women’s health outcomes, especially when it comes to fibroid treatments.

Unmuting Fibroids: A Black Women’s Health Imperative Campaign fibroid treatment gaps

Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, recently explained to Spotlight News that closing fibroid treatment gaps means first addressing years of inequity. She said, “Women don’t want to talk about it. Men obviously don’t want to talk about it. This makes it a challenge. And as Black women, we are socialized to suffer in silence.”

To address that challenge, women need to speak up about their fibroid experiences, she said. “Women—Black women in particular—need to pay attention to our bodies. We need to know this isn’t normal. You shouldn’t be suffering month in and month out. Suffering is not normal, and it is not necessary.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we highlight fibroid warriors in our Woman Crush Wednesday series. And it’s why we celebrate legislative efforts that help women understand their treatment options.

Closing Fibroid Treatments Gaps: Government Support

Last year, NJ Senator Cory Booker sponsored the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act.  It allocates $30 million a year, for the next four years, to fund fibroid research, increase federal efforts to collect treatment outcome data, and to publicly share treatment options.

The bill is much-needed in New Jersey especially, where black women face many health disparities. In that state, Black women are seven times more likely than white women to die during or shortly after childbirth. In trying to improve maternal health outcomes, doctors and legislators are also trying to close fibroid treatment gaps. And that’s an effort we applaud as Houston area fibroid specialists.

Fibroid Treatment Options

There are several different ways to treat fibroids, and they range from natural to minimally invasive, followed by surgical options. Not every treatment makes sense for every woman. But each fibroid sufferer—regardless of race—deserves to learn about every option. That way, she can make an informed decision. And hopefully, she’ll realize that most women with fibroids don’t need a hysterectomy to find relief.

Sadly, fibroid treatment gaps widen because of racial disparities in healthcare. Dr. Ndeye-Aicha Gueye, member of the New Jersey Black Women’s Physicians Association, explains the problem. “Sometimes [women are] just so desperate to have their symptoms lessened,” they sign up for surgery without exploring other possibilities. Even worse, she says? “Black women are also less likely to be offered other options.”

Plus, we know less about how fibroids affect Black women, because of limited research on their specific symptoms and outcomes. So, to counteract this inequity, we need more research focused on women of color. And we all need to speak up about minimally invasive fibroid treatment options like UFE (uterine fibroid embolization.)

Want to learn more about this alternative to hysterectomy? We invite you to schedule a consultation with our team of fibroid specialists. Don’t live in the area? No problem. We also offer virtual consultations, to help you understand all your treatment options. And to join efforts to close fibroid treatment gaps, all across the country.


Reality Check: When Do You Need a Hysterectomy?

So many women in this country get unnecessary hysterectomies! Every year, about 600,000 American women undergo this procedure. (And some estimates say 33% of all women in the U.S. will have a hysterectomy by the time they turn 60!) That’s scary news, since a hysterectomy (the complete removal of your  uterus) is a really big deal. But are there cases when hysterectomies are a must? Let’s take a closer look!

What’s a Hysterectomy?  Even with multiple fibroids, hysterectomy can be avoided

As we said, with a hysterectomy you lose your uterus. But there are different versions of this surgery. In an oophorectomy, doctors remove your ovaries. And with salpingectomy, you only lose your fallopian tubes. Need a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy? That means your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries all have to go.

You may need a partial, total or radical hysterectomy. Partial hysterectomies preserve your cervix. Total hysterectomies don’t. And radical hysterectomies take your whole uterus, cervix and the top part of your vagina.

There are several different ways to perform a hysterectomy. The procedure your surgeon uses will depend on your individual needs. Options include going through your vagina or your abdomen. Or, in some cases, you could have a laparoscopic hysterectomy. That means your doctor could perform this procedure through a tiny incision, using minute telescopes to help see your uterus and safely remove it.

Why are Hysterectomies so Common?

Do 600,000 women a year REALLY need to lose their uterus? As minimally invasive fibroid treatment specialists, we know the answer is “no.” So why is this procedure so common? Unfortunately, a lot of factors play into the over-prevalence of hysterectomies.

First, this procedure has been around for years. So surgeons feel very comfortable performing hysterectomies. And they typically know what the surgical outcome will be, meaning less chances of unpleasant surprises. In contrast, less invasive options such as UFE are relatively new. Many doctors still aren’t familiar with these techniques, so they are less likely to recommend them as options.

And the problem doesn’t stop there. Research suggests that Black women are four times more likely to have a hysterectomy than White women. And they have hysterectomies more often than women of any other race. Yes, this could be tied to the higher incidence of fibroids in women of color. But it also has lots to do with healthcare inequality in this country. Which is something we can’t allow to keep happening.

When Do You NEED a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomies are appropriate when you’re facing a life-threatening condition. So, if you have cancers of the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix or vagina, you may need one. It may be necessary if a woman’s uterus ruptures during childbirth, or if her post-delivery bleeding is life-threatening. In some cases, women with severe PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) will need this surgery. (PID described an infection or inflammation in your uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. It affects about 12% of women, and can be contracted through sex or after getting an IUD, or a D&C following an abortion or miscarriage. If treated early, PID is easy to clear. But when left untreated, it can cause serious complications, including a necessary hysterectomy.)

So, that’s when you really need a hysterectomy. But there are other times when hysterectomies are also considered. Many women with fibroids and endometriosis are told they need to remove their uterus to get relief. And, while this may sometimes be true, other women can avoid this major surgery with less invasive treatment options. In our opinions, as Houston fibroid specialists, if there are treatments that could help women avoid hysterectomies, that should be the first line of defense. Except in cases of emergency, hysterectomies should be the last option your physician recommends.

Looking to treat your fibroids with a less invasive option? Our Houston area fibroid specialists are here to help! Schedule a consultation with our team, to see if you’re a good candidate for an alternative to hysterectomy!

Sources: CDC, Shape Magazine

Fibroid Surgery vs UFE? Less invasive treatment gives Equal (or Better!) Results

Fibroid surgery vs UFE: how can you choose? Well, we’ve got some exciting news that may help! UFE is just as effective at treating fibroids as myomectomy surgery!

Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus. They’re typically non-cancerous, and may go unnoticed by some women. Symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and pain during sex. Women with fibroids may also have a hard time becoming or remaining pregnant.

Many women are told that a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the answer to troubling fibroid symptoms. But women who don’t want to have a hysterectomy have to choose between other treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Myomectomy.

UFE is a minimally invasive treatment. It involves threading a thin tube into the blood vessel that supplies a fibroid tumor. Then, we permanently block the blood vessel with an injection of small plastic or gel particles. That blockage causes fibroids to shrink over time. Myomectomy, in contrast, involves surgical removal of a fibroid tumor. It’s a more invasive treatment, but may be a better option for women who still want to become pregnant.

Even so, we need women to know their options. But only 62% of women know about UFE, according to recent surveys. And, to this day, we still perform hysterectomies 65 times more often than UFE. Which is why, today, we want to help you understand the outcome differences of fibroid surgery vs UFE. So that you can make a truly informed treatment decision.

Study Compares Fibroid Surgery vs UFE and Other Treatments

In one recent study, researchers looked at data from 950 women, half of whom had UFE and half who had a myomectomy to treat fibroids. Both groups of women gave health updates for the following seven years.

After reviewing the data, the findings were pretty clear: the procedures were similarly effective fibroid treatments. Seven years after the procedures, women in both groups had higher hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin rose because heavy bleeding improved.

When it came to follow up procedures, the UFE group fared better. While 9.9% of the myomectomy group needed secondary procedures, in the UFE group, that number was only 8.6%.

And, among the women who had a myomectomy, there were higher rates of post-surgical complications, including the need for a blood transfusion (2.9% versus 1.1% for those who had UFE).

Study author Dr. Jemianne Bautista-Jia said, “The two treatments were comparably effective [and] UFE resulted in more favorable outcomes.” Additionally, the radiology resident at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center noted, women who had UFE had less pain and shorter recovery times. Those women also reported greater relief from heavy bleeding.

These benefits are so clear, but “Patients are often not fully informed of their treatment options…UFE and myomectomy are procedures with similar efficacy and durability for treating fibroids, but the UFE has fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.” She hopes these study findings will help raise UFE awareness. She encourages all women with fibroids to discuss UFE with their doctors before deciding on a course of treatment.

Study Update: Minor Differences in 36 Month Follow Up

Researchers kept following the study participants, checking in with them after 24 and 36 months. Here’s what they found. Breaking down the statistics we mention earlier, of all the women, only 2 UFE recipients had received a second procedure by the 36 month checkup. In contrast, 7 myomectomy patients needed further surgery.

For both groups of women, the number of fibroids was still reduced by 50% at the 24 and 36 month follow-ups. (This, again, suggests that UFE yields equal or better results than fibroid surgery.) Still, one new finding gave a slight advantage to myomectomy. And that relates to tumor size.

At the 36 month check-in, women with myomectomy saw a greater decrease in their largest tumor size than women with UFE. At the same time, women who received UFE saw their uterine size decrease more than women in the other treatment group.

Clearly, there is a lot to consider when deciding how to address your fibroid diagnosis. Need more information to explore all your treatment options? We’re here to help with treatment decisions. Schedule an appointment today with our experts, and we’ll help you decide if you’re a candidate for UFE treatment.

Sources: Contemporary OBGYN

Important Facts on UAE and other Adenomyosis Treatments

Adenomyosis is a benign, non-life threatening condition.  But it’s very painful, and patients need relief. Unfortunately, doctors often confuse adenomyosis with uterine fibroids and other conditions, so it can be difficult to diagnose without proper medical attention.

One of the newer treatments for Adenomyosis is UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. How does its effectiveness stack up against other treatments?

Continue reading “Important Facts on UAE and other Adenomyosis Treatments”

UFE Gives Better Fibroid Outcomes, Study Proves

If you want a treatment with better fibroid outcomes, this read is for you! Today, we’re introducing you to Shellie Canady, a woman who had a miserable 16-year fibroid journey, suffering until she finally discovered Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.)

Her story, shared with Wish TV, begins back in 1995, when Canady’s doctor found fibroids in her uterus. That year, she had a myomectomy to remove the growths. But they came back, and she had another surgery in 2002. At this point, the invasive procedures created so much scar tissue that she developed a bile obstruction. Now, she needed surgery to remove 18 inches of her intestines!

Finally, she decided to try UFE, to treat her fibroids without surgery. She was thrilled to avoid surgery while finding relief from her fibroid symptoms. And she proved what we’re learning from ongoing research.

Because, according to a recent Mayo Clinic study, minimally invasive uterine fibroid treatments offer better results than surgical options. That’s exciting news for women who want to avoid hysterectomy. And for those of us who seek to understand fibroid risks to deliver better fibroid outcomes.

Why do women get fibroids? Funding fibroid research to narrow the Black woman's healthcare gap

We still don’t know why women develop fibroids. But understanding different risk factors can help us target fibroid treatments. Recently, at the 2021 Fibroid Summit, presenters talked about factors that increase fibroid risk.

Admitting there’s not one trigger, several potential risk factors were discussed. First, presenters noted that vitamin D deficiency and obesity increase your fibroid risk. Also, changes in your microbiome and being extra responsive to estrogen were noted as fibroid risks. Finally, in-utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (des) turns out to be a major risk for fibroids. (This is a type of synthetic estrogen hormone. Today, we know it’s very dangerous. But between the 1940s and 1970s, many women were given this drug to prevent miscarriages and other pregnancy complications. So, if your mother took des while pregnant, your fibroid risk increases.)

Now, just because you’re at risk for fibroids doesn’t mean you’ll develop these non-cancerous tumors. In fact, many women develop fibroids with no known risk factors. Still, whatever your fibroid risk, it’s important to know you have several treatment options. And they don’t have to involve surgery.

UFE Fibroid Outcomes

According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who treated fibroids with UAE (uterine artery embolization) were less likely to need a second procedure than women who were treated with MRI focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS). 

Now, both treatments reduced women’s fibroid symptoms. But UFE offered better symptom reduction.

Of course, the study proved that both procedures were minimally invasive, Meaning they’re both great alternatives to hysterectomy. (That procedure requires the complete removal of your uterus.)

This is great news for all women, since fibroids lead to about 200,000 hysterectomies each year in this country. While hysterectomies can “cure” women of fibroids, removing your uterus increases your risk of long term health complications. And these include weight gain and heart disease.

Putting Women FIRSTT

What’s important about this study is that it finally, alternatives to hysterectomies. In this way, it’s easier to see which is minimally invasive treatment delivers the best fibroid outcomes. And in this study, called FIRSTT Fibroid Interventions: Reducing Symptoms Today and Tomorrow, Mayo Clinic, Duke University and University of California, San Francisco,  researchers compared MRgFUS to UAE to determine effectiveness.

During the study, 83 participants were randomly assigned to receive one of the two treatments. Over the next four years, researchers compared the fibroid outcomes for both. (Seventy women had MRgFUS and 62 had UAE.) Of the MRgFUS women, 30 percent underwent a second fibroid procedure. In comparison, only 13 percent of the UAE patients needed a second procedure.

Finding Better Fibroid Outcomes in Houston

For interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, this study is great news. What it proves to us, and to our patients, is that alternative hysterectomy treatments are effective. Plus, it shows that some are more effective than others. In this way, the study shows the importance of considering all your fibroid treatment options. In that way, when you decide to deal with your fibroid diagnosis, you’ll get great outcomes.

Ready to learn more about UAE? We’re here to help. Call our office and request an immediate appointment. We’ll help you find the treatment that’s best for you!


Sources: Mayo Clinic, Contemporary ObGyn  

US Representative Underwood Joins Women Facing Fibroid Surgery

Recently, US Representative Lauren Underwood had fibroid surgery. Then, with this statement, she announced that  she’ll spend weeks recovering from her procedure. Now, that’s not surprising. After all, fibroid surgery is a major, invasive procedure. It requires hospital stays and lots of downtime afterwards. But it’s not the only fibroid treatment option. Which is something too many women don’t realize, until it’s too late.

Delayed Treatment Forces Fibroid Surgery rep underwood fibroid surgery

That was the case for Indian TV host  Fatma Mohammed who delayed fibroid treatments. That decision limited her treatment options, forcing her to have invasive surgery. Now, she’s sharing her story. And the TV star says she first saw her doctor because of troubling symptoms.  And her caregiver actually diagnosed her fibroids without delay. But, at the time, she says, she only had five fibroids.

Unfortunately, Mohammed did not seek immediate treatment. By the time she was ready for help, the first five fibroids were bigger. Additionally, she’d developed 21 new fibroids. At that point, Mohammed’s physicians opted to surgically remove the fibroids.

The Real Truth About Fibroid Surgery

Following her recovery from this major surgery, Mohammed publicized her outcome so that other women could avoid similar situations. “I was informed that if only I had sought treatment when the five were first detected then I would not have gone under the knife,” she says. “Laparoscopy (a surgical procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall) would have removed them.”

We are so grateful that Fatma is telling her story, but we’re also terribly sad. It’s true that early treatment is crucial for fibroids, but it’s also true that laparoscopic surgery is still surgery.

Non-Surgical Fibroid Treatment in Houston

Myths about uterine fibroids

In our Houston Fibroids practice, we offer women a non-surgical, out-patient treatment option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). We insert your IV through an artery in the left wrist, so you can sit up and walk out of the office right after the procedure! While not every patient is a candidate, many can benefit from UFE. You don’t have to have radical procedures like surgical fibroid removal or a hysterectomy.

If you have been diagnosed with fibroids and are currently considering treatment options,  schedule a consultation with our doctors. Our team of experts can help you determine how UFE can help you start feeling like yourself again.

UFE E-Book

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment