Exciting news for women with uterine fibroids

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And there are a lot of us. Twenty to 40% of American women 35 and older have uterine fibroids. Make that 50% of premenopausal African American women. Uterine fibroids can be insidious. You may not even know they are there and if you are trying to conceive, they can prevent pregnancy. With more women waiting until later in their lives for childbirth, there is a naturally occurring intersection between uterine tumor and infertility.

A new study has been released showing a better way than major invasive surgery to treat uterine fibroids for better fertility. “This study is significant because it shows comparable fertility rates between the two primary uterus-sparing treatments widely available to treat fibroids: Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) and surgical myomectomy (fibroid removal), which is considered the gold standard for symptomatic fibroids in women who wish to conceive,” said Joao Martins Pisco, MD an interventional radiologist at St. Louis Hospital in Lisbon.

“These results were surprising because other studies have favored surgical myomectomy over UFE for women who want to conceive. In this study of 743 women, UFE had a fertility rate of 58.1% which is comparable to surgical fibroid removal (myomectomy), which has a fertility rate of 57%,” stated Pisco. “Our study shows that not only does UFE allow women who were unable to conceive to become pregnant but also allow them to have normal pregnancies with similar complication rates as the general population,” he added.

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus that can cause prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeding leading to anemia even requiring transfusion. There may be disabling pelvic pain, urinary complications, miscarriage, and other obstacles to conception including pain during intercourse. It appears that the larger the fibroids are, the greater their capacity to cause infertility.

The conventional treatment of uterine fibroids has been major, invasive surgery requiring the removal of part of the uterus with the fibroid. With the UFE procedure, which is outpatient for most women, a small incision is made and a catheter is put into the femoral artery. The catheter delivers tiny particles into the blood vessels feeding the fibroid, cutting off its blood flow and causing it to shrink and symptoms to subside.

“In the future, UFE will probably be a first-line treatment option, even for women who wish to conceive and are unable due to the presence of uterine fibroids,” Pisco theorized.

Source: Society of Interventional Radiology, Medical News Today


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