The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Dr. Merve Ozen, assistant professor of radiology and surgery in the UK College of Medicine and specialist in the Uterine Fibroid Program at UK HealthCare.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 19, 2021) — More than half of women eventually develop fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. Most of the time, they don’t have any symptoms and cause no problems, but when they do, women may experience:
- Heavy menstruation requiring more than 10 pads or tampons each day
- Periods lasting longer than a week
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
- Frequent or difficult urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Constipation, bloating or abdominal swelling
While the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, genetics or changes in hormones can contribute to the growth of fibroids.
Many women diagnosed with uterine fibroids are told a hysterectomy is their only option for relief, but often fibroids can be treated with more conservative or noninvasive options. Depending on a patient’s age or medical history, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills or an intrauterine device (IUD). Both can decrease bleeding and pain caused by fibroids.
Advanced procedures such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) can be considered if those measures are not effective. In this nonsurgical procedure, interventional radiologists insert a tiny tube into the uterine artery to cut off the fibroid’s blood supply, causing it to shrink. This procedure is done under twilight sedation and takes less than two hours. The procedure will not leave any scars. It’s an option for women who do not want surgery or may not be good candidates for it and who want to keep their uterus. One out of 10 patients may need a hysterectomy after UFE within five years.
If you suspect you have uterine fibroids, talk to your gynecologist about treatment options.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.