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Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is also sometimes called uterine fibroid embolization. The uterine arteries are blocked with small, non-allergenic beads to cut off blood flow to the uterus and fibroids. The uterus typically recovers but the fibroids don't.

About 85-90% of women get significant symptom relief from UAE. As of January 2011, well over 100,000 women have had UAE for their fibroids.

Pros: It's an alternative to surgery and it requires a minimal (1 day) hospital stay or an outpatient visit.

The incision is small (no stitches are required) and the uterus is left intact. Most women return to normal daily activities within 1 to 2 weeks. Although most women can still conceive and have a baby, the effects of UAE on childbearing and pregnancy isn't known at this time.

Cons: There is a slight risk that the procedure could cause early menopause by blocking blood flow to the ovaries. There's a very small risk for a severe infection or not enough blood flow to the uterus, which could make require a hysterectomy (about a 1 in 500 risk).

Some pain in the pelvic region after the procedure is common, which may require use of pain medications for several days. Recurrence of symptoms due to fibroids occurs in one in five women within 5 years of the treatment.

Recovery Time: Typically between 5-14 days, but some women can go back to work in 3 days.

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