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Women With Fibroids Should Think Twice Before Getting UFE

This article is sponsored by The Center for Innovative GYN Care

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is Not Recommended for Women Who Want to Get Pregnant

Damage to the uterus is a major concern for women with fibroids who still wish to retain fertility. Many women are seeking out, or are being referred for, uterine fibroid (or artery) embolization (UFE or UAE), but they are not getting all of the facts about both the limitations of the procedure or the long-term effects on fertility.

UFE is a procedure performed by radiologists who insert a small catheter into the large vessel in the groin, and then they find the vessels that feed the fibroid. Those vessels are then blocked with little plastic particles.

“A year after I had uterine artery embolization, my fibroids tripled in size,” said Gessie Thompson, Fibroids & Fertility Coach and author of Hope Beyond Fibroids. “Nothing was stopping these things.”

“In younger patients, the long-term control of embolization is limited,” said Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD. “Several things can happen: Additional fibroids can grow, the fibroid that was embolized could re-establish a blood supply, and there are controversies with embolization and fertility. We highly recommend that if patients are told they can get UAE, and they still want to have a baby, they should reconsider that approach. Embolization can affect implantation of the embryo into the lining of the uterus where the baby grows. You have to preserve the blood supply and you have to preserve the lining.”

On the ask4UFE website, uterine fibroid embolization is touted as an alternative to hysterectomy, not myomectomy (uterine sparing fibroid removal) and overall, it is not recommended by experts for women who wish to maintain fertility.

Listed risks include:

  • Common, but short-term allergic reactions such as rashes.
  • Increased vaginal discharge or vaginal infection.
  • Possibly passing the fibroid tumor through your period as it dies off.
  • Early menopause.
  • The effects of UFE on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not been determined.

UpToDate®, the premier evidence-based clinical decision support resource, used worldwide by healthcare practitioners, lists out conditions where UFE should NOT be used.

There is also an adverse effect on women who have become pregnant after having UFE.

“A systematic review and several case series of pregnancies following UFE or UAE have reported adverse outcomes including miscarriage, preterm delivery, placental problems, and malpresentation.”

THE SAFER MINIMALLY INVASIVE FIBROID REMOVAL SURGERY: LAAM

The LAAM (laparoscopic assisted abdominal myomectomy) minimally invasive fibroid removal procedure at The Center for Innovative GYN Care is proven to be safer than open or robotic surgeries, and more effective than UFE at preserving the uterus for fertility.

LAAM is a hybrid surgery takes the thoroughness of an open procedure and faster recovery of standard laparoscopy. It uses just two small incisions, one 5MM incision at the belly button and a 1.5 inch incision at the bikini line. The minimally invasive GYN specialists at CIGC are able to remove all fibroids, no matter the size, number or location. The uterus is then repaired by hand. This makes it possible for women who wish to maintain fertility to carry a baby to term.

“LAAM Patients have a better recovery, and because we can feel all of the fibroids, we are able to remove all of them, large or small,” said Dr. Danilyants. “Recovery is two weeks or less, and many patients return to work in 10 days. With so little down time, women do not have to put off having this procedure.”

THE GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT TO MAKE JULY FIBROIDS AWARENESS MONTH

July is Fibroid Awareness Month in a handful of states, but this year marks the beginning of the push for national recognition led by The White Dress Project. Thanks to their grassroots efforts, the effects of fibroids are given a larger spotlight this month as they head to Washington, D.C. on July 15th to launch their D.C. chapter with a resolution that will include the District of Columbia as a city that recognizes July as Fibroids Awareness Month.

Important statistics:

  • More than 80 percent of all women have fibroids.
  • African-American women get fibroids more frequently and with more severity than other races.
  • Symptoms can vary due to size and location. The most common symptoms are:

–  Pelvic pain that can make it difficult to get out of bed and abdominal bloating

–  Heavy bleeding which can lead to fatigue, anemia and require transfusions

–  Infertility, miscarriage, or pre-term births

– Pressure on delicate structures like the urinary tract, ureters, and veins that can cause                                  damage to bladder, kidneys and cause blood clots


The Center for Innovative GYN Care is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. CIGC minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD developed techniques to perform fibroid removal using only two small incisions.

Our minimally invasive surgeons have seen firsthand the pain and anxiety women with fibroids face. We have also seen what delaying fibroid surgery can do to distort a woman’s uterus. The longer a woman suffers with fibroids, the likelihood of extensive damage to her reproductive organs increases.

If you are suffering with fibroids or are having trouble with fertility treatments, it is important to see a minimally invasive GYN specialist for an evaluation. Book a consultation at The Center for Innovative GYN Care or call 888-787-4379.