Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Select An Article

Alternatives to Hysterectomy

Font Size

One-third of American women experience some type of pelvic health disorder by the time they're 60. And about 600,000 women every year have a hysterectomy -- removing their uterus to relieve troubling symptoms. Overall, an estimated 20 million women have had a hysterectomy.

But if you have painful periods with excessive bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis, or another pelvic health problem, you should know that there are alternatives to hysterectomy to consider.

Recommended Related to Women

What if Your Best Friends Are Your Worst Enemies?

By Lori Gottlieb Remember the scene at the end of the first Sex and the City movie, when the fabulous foursome was sitting down to cocktails? Samantha had just left Smith, her gorgeous, adoring boyfriend — whom she loved and who had lovingly supported her through breast cancer — because "I love myself more." That's right: She dumped a keeper using what was arguably the most idiotic grrrl-power proclamation in the history of chick flicks (and there's some formidable competition there). And how did...

Read the What if Your Best Friends Are Your Worst Enemies? article > >

Uterine Fibroids

These tumors, usually benign, are generally found on the smooth muscles of the uterus, and can cause pelvic pain, infertility, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Uterine fibroids are a major reason why women have hysterectomies, accounting for between 177,000 and 366,000 of the annual total.

If your fibroids are causing no symptoms, it's entirely reasonable to adopt a strategy called "watchful waiting" -- monitoring their status with your doctor and not having any surgery unless problems develop. But if you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or pressure, there are several less-invasive options for treating fibroids:

  • Myomectomy. This is the surgical removal of the fibroids alone. It can be done through an abdominal operation, laparoscopically (entering through the navel), or via hysteroscopy (inserting a thin, telescope-like instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina). A laparoscopic or hysteroscopic approach is least invasive, and these are also less costly and require shorter recovery time. The da Vinci robotic myomectomy is another technique that offers precision and smaller incisions. There is a small chance that what was thought to be a fibroid could instead be a cancer called uterine sarcoma. For this reason, the FDA recommends not cutting the fibroid into small sections before removing it, a process called laparoscopic morcellation.
  • Uterine artery embolization (UAE), also known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This is a fairly simple, noninvasive procedure in which small particles are injected into the uterine arteries feeding the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply. Unlike a hysterectomy, this procedure preserves the uterus and helps women potentially avoid surgery. It's been used for years to help stop hemorrhage after childbirth or surgery. Symptoms improve in 85% to 90% of patients, most of them significantly.
  • Hysteroscopy. The insertion of a thin, telescope-like instrument through the vagina can be used if the fibroid is primarily within the cavity of the uterus. This is a minor surgical procedure with minimal recuperation time, but can only be offered to women who have fibroids within the lining of the uterine cavity.
  • Medical management. Painful symptoms of uterine fibroids can be initially treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Motrin. If that isn't effective, another option is a class of drugs that blocks the ovaries' production of estrogen and other hormones. Their side effects can include symptoms of premature menopause and a decrease in bone density. This is done only prior to scheduled fibroid removal, not long term. The fibroids will grow again after therapy is stopped.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror