Sunday, May 8th was not only Mother’s Day but it was the first day of National Women’s Health Week. A week dedicated specifically to women of all ages with the simple but important message to make their health a priority. This initiative is led by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health, but is supported nationally by businesses, organizations, and individuals who want to share the importance of taking and maintaining control of your health.
Women are encouraged to take the pledge toward better women’s health, as well as follow steps toward improvement, which include: 1
- Getting preventive screenings (well visits)
- Eating Healthy
- Getting Active
- NOT ignoring their mental health. Making sure to get enough sleep and manage stress
- AVOIDING smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or helmet when riding a bike
- NOT avoiding lingering medical conditions, by making follow-up appointments
Make Your Health a Priority
Women traditionally tend to take on a caretaker role; whether it is with their family, friends, coworkers, or through volunteer efforts. So, while the health of others is made a priority, their own health is put on the backburner. This is seen even more among women who suffer from chronic or episodic health conditions, such as Uterine Fibroids. Uterine Fibroids, noncancerous growths of the uterus, are something that many women silently suffer through after diagnosis, even though treatment options exist.
Don’t Ignore Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids Even After Diagnosis
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids vary depending on the individual but can range anywhere from showing no symptoms at all to: 2
- Abnormal Bleeding: Heavy and prolonged vaginal bleeding
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Long menstrual periods of more than 5 days and/or bleeding for more than 2 hours, with blood soaking through a pad or tampon within 1 to 2 hours.
- More frequent bleeding: Bleeding in between periods, or full periods that occur more than a typical cycle.
- Difficulty with urination
- Excess urination
- Blockage of urine flow, which can lead to kidney damage
- Tenesmus, an urge to go to the bathroom but you cannot
- Pelvic Pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you do not have to continue to live with discomfort and pain. There are treatment options available.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options
Many women will live everyday with these symptoms instead of making an appointment to talk to their physician about their treatment options. Treatment options for uterine fibroids can include drug therapy, surgical procedures and minimally invasive techniques. Drug therapies are used to treat the symptoms such as cramping and heavy bleeding, but they do not have a direct effect on the fibroids. Surgical procedures to treat uterine fibroids include hysterectomy or myomectomy which effectively remove fibroids, but also are considered a major surgery. A hysterectomy requires removal of the uterus, but a myomectomy does not.
Surgery is not the only alternative. There is a minimally-invasive treatment option called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) that can treat fibroids, preserve the uterus, reduce symptoms, and not require surgery.
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?
Uterine fibroid embolization involves placing a catheter into the artery that supplies blood to the uterus and guiding the catheter toward the arteries that provide blood to the fibroids. When in place, small “beads” are injected into the small arteries, causing a blockage of blood flow to the fibroids. Once the fibroid’s blood supply is cut off they will shrink and die. The entire procedure lasts about 1 hour with light sedation.
Benefits of UFE are:
- Short recovery time with few complications
- Less risky than hysterectomy or myomectomy
- Return to normal activities within 8-14 days
- Treats all the fibroids with one procedure
- Low complication rate
- Recurrence of fibroids is rare
- No adhesions or scar tissue formation
- Minimal blood loss—no need for transfusion
- Conscious sedation vs. general anesthesia
- There is long-term control of fibroid-related symptoms and normalization of quality of life in 75% of patients3
- Successfully treated fibroids very rarely re-grow
Take Control of Your Health!
If you have already been diagnosed with Uterine Fibroids and have been suffering with related symptoms, it is time for you to prioritize yourself. UFE is a safe and effective alternative to fibroid removal surgery. If you think UFE is a good option for you, request an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and goals with an interventional radiologist who performs UFE.
Starting Sunday, May 8 through the 14th remember to take the pledge for better health! For more information on National Women’s Health Week, please visit: http://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/.
ii Zimmerman, A.,et al., Prevalence, symptoms and management of uterine fibroids: an international internet-based survey of 21,746 women. BMC Womens Health, 2012.12(6):p.1-11.
iii Scheurig-Muenker, C. et al., (2013). Clinical long-term outcome after uterine artery embolization: sustained symptom control and improvement of quality of life. Journal of Vascular Interventional Radiology, 24(6), 765-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2013.02.018.