Believe it or not, most women have uterine fibroids and are none the wiser since these small growths don’t make themselves known in any appreciable way. For the unlucky few, however, uterine fibroids can become highly problematic, causing painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, and even infertility.
At Vascular Access Centers, we help women in the Memphis and East Memphis, Tennessee, area who are dealing with large or numerous fibroids that are negatively affecting their health and well-being. And the technique we use helps our patients avoid invasive, and irreversible, surgeries.
If you’re dealing with chronic pelvic pain because of problematic uterine fibroids, here’s what you need to know and, more importantly, what we can do about them.
As we mentioned, most women develop fibroids during their reproductive years and aren’t even aware of their existence. Fibroids, which are medically known as leiomyomas, are noncancerous growths that form inside your uterine wall. They can range in size from a small kernel of rice up to the size of a grapefruit and every size in between.
Obviously, fibroids that grow to a considerable size are the more problematic ones because they press against other organs and create problems with urination, bowel movements, and painful sex. Some women also have issues with numerous fibroids that can enlarge their uteruses, sometimes expanding them up into their rib cages.
In some cases, the pain and discomfort that numerous or large fibroids cause can also extend outside of your pelvic region, affecting your low back and legs.
As if the pain and discomfort aren’t enough to deal with, women with fibroids may also run into fertility problems, and they’re six times more likely to need a cesarean section during delivery.
The traditional solution for fibroids
Traditionally, when faced with problematic fibroids, doctors have (and still do) turned to hysterectomy to alleviate the side effects of uterine fibroids. In fact, each year more than 200,000 women in the United States undergo a hysterectomy to deal with painful uterine fibroids.
While effective, this irreversible procedure to remove your uterus is far from ideal if you’re still hoping to have children. Thankfully, there is another way.
The road less traveled
At Vascular Access Centers, we specialize in the human vascular system, which means we have a thorough understanding of how your blood vessels work. Using a minimally invasive technique called a uterine fibroid embolization, we’re able to block the flow of blood to your fibroid, causing it to shrink.
Using only a small incision in your groin area, we thread a catheter through the artery that supplies blood to your uterine fibroid. To do this, we use fluoroscopy, which is a technique that relies on X-ray technology to provide pictures your blood vessels and accurately guide the catheter. Once we’re inside, we deliver embolic agents that block the artery from delivering blood, and when your fibroid no longer receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive, it shrivels up.
We perform this procedure on an outpatient basis, which means you’re free to go home afterward. Most of our patients tolerate the embolization extremely well. We supply you with a local anesthetic or mild sedative to make sure you’re comfortable before we get started. (This also means that you should arrange for transportation back home.)
Ultimately, a uterine fibroid embolization provides an effective alternative to the more invasive and irreversible hysterectomy because it leaves your uterus intact. In fact, reports show that 90% of women who undergo this innovative procedure enjoy a significant improvement in their symptoms and even complete resolution.
If you’d like to put an end to the chronic pelvic pain and other problems related to uterine fibroids, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool found on this website to set up an appointment.