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Fibroid Tumors: What Every Woman Must Know

Diagnosed with fibroids? Three experts help WebMD explore your treatment options.

Treatment Options: What You Should Know continued...

Recovery is also fast. Most women are out of the hospital in two days and back to normal living within two weeks. It's also a permanent treatment for fibroids that can bring much-needed relief.

Says Goldstein: "My personal choice is to always do as little treatment as possible; but at the same time, women should not routinely close their ears when the doctor mentions hysterectomy, because this one particular type can be extremely helpful and cause no more problems than some of the newer alternatives."

That said, it's also important that you know all your options. To this end, WebMD asked our panel of experts to help us prepare the following guide -- a look at some of the alternative treatments for fibroid tumors. Though not every option will be right for every woman, the experts we consulted unanimously agreed that for each woman, there is frequently one or more alternatives to a hysterectomy.

Option 1: Myomectomy Fibroid Surgery
What it does: Removes only the fibroid tumors, leaving the uterus and all other organs completely intact.
How It's Done: The three major approaches include traditional surgery with a large incision on the abdomen, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery done through pin hole-sized incisions, and, depending on the site of the fibroid, some can be done through hysteroscopy, a surgery done through the vagina.
What It Accomplishes: Removes the fibroid tumor and offers relief for up to several years, after which time fibroids can sometimes grow back.
Best Suited for: Women who have fibroid tumors but wish to preserve their fertility.

What You Should Know: "Of the three approaches, hysteroscopy is the most effective if you have bleeding or fertility-related problems or recurrent pregnancy loss due to fibroid tumors," says Arici.

That said, Arici cautions that myomectomy can cause adhesions or scar tissue to develop, which later may interfere with fertility. "A woman may need to use IVF in order to conceive after this surgery," he says. The uterus, however, remains strong enough to support a healthy pregnancy, he says.

Option 2: Uterine Artery Embolization
What It Is: A radiological procedure that blocks blood flow to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and eventually die.
How It's Done: A minimally invasive procedure, it involves placing a catheter into the uterine arteries through which tiny particles are injected that seal off the blood supply to the tumor.
What It Accomplishes: Without a blood supply, the fibroid withers and dies.
Best Suited for: Women who have completed childbearing.

What You Should Know: While doctors agree this is a safe, smart treatment, that opinion changes dramatically if a woman has not completed her childbearing. The reason? "Studies show that obstetric complications are higher following this treatment, including a higher rate of preterm labor," says Arici.

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