3 Non-Surgical Treatments For Uterine Fibroids

Posted on: 15 January 2016

Uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus – are a very common condition for women. The statistics indicate that between 20 to 40 percent of all women develop uterine fibroids, and it's possible that up to 80 percent of African American develop them. In spite of this, there is no universally agreed-upon best treatment option for the condition. For a long time, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or surgery to remove the fibroids from the uterus were the go-to options, and it's still a common treatment option for many women. However, major surgery is not the only treatment available today – there are other options for women who would like to preserve their chances of having children, or who simply don't wish to undergo major abdominal surgery. Check out a few of the non-surgical treatment options for uterine fibroids.

Natural Methods

Not all uterine fibroids are symptomatic, and some only cause minimal symptoms. Furthermore, in some cases the fibroids shrink or disappear on their own over time. For that reason, many doctors adopt a "wait and watch" approach if the symptoms are not severe. However, if you and your doctor have agreed to wait and watch, you may still be interested in natural methods of treating uterine fibroids or relieving symptoms.

One such natural method is green tea extract. A catechin in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and antioxidant effects that may be responsible for its ability to shrink fibroids. One study showed that patients who were given green tea extract had a 32.6% reduction in total fibroid volume after four months, as opposed to a placebo group that had a fibroid volume increase of 24.2% in the same time period.

Other popular natural treatments for fibroids include Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.

Hormone Treatments

If your fibroid symptoms are severe, you and your doctor may decide upon hormone therapy as a course of treatment. Estrogen, the female hormone, encourages the growth of fibroids. Therefore, hormone therapy for uterine fibroids is designed to reduce or halt the production of estrogen.

The treatment can be used to reduce symptoms or, in stronger form, to shrink the fibroids by bringing on a temporary menopause. This is usually done either before surgery, to make the fibroids easier to remove, or for a woman who is approaching a natural menopause anyway. Once the hormone therapy is stopped and the estrogen returns to normal levels, the fibroids will enlarge to their previous levels, however, that isn't an issue if the fibroids are surgically removed or if the woman enters natural menopause, which naturally results in a decrease in estrogen.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

An effective and permanent solution for uterine fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure performed by a vascular radiologist (also known as an interventional radiologist.) Women undergoing UFE experience only a small nick in the groin area. The radiologist uses this to insert a catheter leading to the arteries of the uterus, through which small gelatin particles are injected. These gelatin particles block the flow of blood to the fibroids, causing them to starve.

This procedure takes only around 90 minutes, and patients typically only need to stay in the hospital overnight. Many patients are able to return to work after only a week of recovery. For women with moderate to severe symptoms from their uterine fibroids who wish to avoid a hysterectomy or major surgery, UFE is one of the best options available, with a national success rate of 80 to 90%.

If you know or suspect that you have uterine fibroids, ask your doctor to explain all of your options to you before choosing a course of treatment. One of these non-surgical, minimally invasive procedures may be the right treatment for you. If you're looking for a new doctor near you, check out a clinic like DeSoto Memorial Hospital.