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Diagnosis and Treatment

Uterine fibroids are typically first found during a pelvic exam or suspected based on symptoms. During your annual gynecological examination, or if you schedule a special visit to investigate possible symptoms, your doctor will check the size of your uterus. If it feels enlarged, your doctor may prescribe an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound, an MRI or another method to confirm the presence, location and size of fibroids.

Treatment Options

Women with uterine fibroids have a number of options for treatment, ranging from surgery to minimally invasive procedures to medication. When considering your options, it is important to consider the recovery time, symptom recurrence rate, need for post-procedure hormone replacement therapy, the risk of early menopause and other effects on the body.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

UFE is a non-surgical outpatient procedure that provides an alternative to surgery. UFE has been performed on thousands of women worldwide since 1994 and has been clinically proven to be successful in reducing the major symptoms of uterine fibroids with minimal hospitalization.

During UFE, X-ray imaging is used to guide a catheter placed in the upper thigh to the uterine arteries. Tiny particles are then injected through the catheter into the blood vessels, blocking the feeding of the fibroids, which causes them to shrink, and ultimately, die. The minimally invasive procedure has a clinical success rate related to bleeding and other symptoms of about 85 percent to 95 percent. UFE is not intended for women who wish to become pregnant in the future; however, several studies have shown that women actively trying to become pregnant following UFE were able to do so.


Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and often the ovaries. Hysterectomy usually requires a four- to six-week recovery period and is associated with long-term physical and psychological effects, including incontinence, loss of sexual pleasure and depression. If the ovaries are removed along with the uterus before a woman reaches menopause, her risk of osteoporosis and heart disease increases. She also may need to consider if hormone replacement therapy is necessary to control symptoms of surgical menopause. A woman is no longer able to have children after having a hysterectomy.


Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids that leaves the uterus in place. Since the uterus is left in place, a woman undergoing myomectomy may still be able to have children. Like hysterectomy, myomectomy is invasive and requires a long recovery period. There is also no guarantee that the fibroids will not return. Some studies have shown that up to 46 percent of women have recurring fibroid symptoms two years after their myomectomy.

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound

This procedure uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to destroy fibroids and is a relatively new procedure, with limited availability in the U.S. HIFU is non-invasive and performed as an outpatient procedure, with six to eight hours of treatment time. Many women are not eligible for treatment with HIFU, however, as the procedure is not intended for women who are pregnant or desire future pregnancy. The effects of HIFU on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not yet been determined.


Medications called GnRH agonists offer short-term relief from fibroid symptoms. GnRH agonists induce a temporary chemical menopause by reducing estrogen levels, causing the fibroids to decrease in size. However, the fibroids usually grow back to their pre-treatment size when the medication is discontinued.

“All staff involved before, during and after my UFE were pleasant, helpful, knowledgeable and informative. I was treated with respect and as an individual.

– Lynna | Read more