Community Health Network

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Interventional radiology

Heavy period or pelvic pain?

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Community Interventional Radiology

Heavy or painful period / uterine fibroids

It is normal for women to experience a heavy menstrual period or cramps from time to time. What is not normal is a heavy period that impacts how you live your daily life or pelvic pain that is constant or unbearable. If you have these symptoms, you should be checked by a doctor.

Women who experience pelvic pain or heavy menstrual bleeding may have a common, non-cancerous growth on the uterine wall called a uterine fibroid. “About 30 percent of all women have uterine fibroids. Most cause no symptoms and do not need treatment,” says Karen Ehrman, M.D., an interventional radiologist with Community Health Network.

Uterine fibroids are very common non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop in the uterus. They can range in size from very tiny (a quarter of an inch) to larger than a cantaloupe. Sometimes fibroids can cause the uterus to grow, similar to when the uterus increases in size during pregnancy. In many cases, there is more than one fibroid found in the uterus.

Click to view larger version
Click to view larger version.

Symptoms of uterine fibroids

  • Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, and/or bleeding between cycles
  • Passage of numerous clots during the menstrual cycle
  • Pelvic pain and pressure
  • Pain in the back and legs
  • Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate; urinating more than eight times per day or 1-2 times per night
  • Pressure on the bowel, leading to bloating and/or constipation
  • Enlarged or distended abdomen

If you are any having these symptoms, it should be discussed with your women’s health physician or gynecologist.

Treatment option: Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)

For most women with symptoms, the standard treatment has been hysterectomy, (surgical removal of the uterus) or myomectomy, (surgical removal of the fibroids). Fortunately, with the advancement of medicine there are other options. One such option is embolization of uterine fibroids or “UFE.” This treatment helps shrink the fibroids and is a non-surgical, less invasive procedure that is performed by an interventional radiologist. Learn more about UFE >>

Talk with your doctor

If you have fibroids, your options for treatment vary depending on the size of the tumor(s) and the severity of your symptoms. Other treatments include hormonal therapy, medication or surgery, as well as watchful monitoring by a doctor, because some fibroids shrink or disappear on their own. All treatments for fibroids have pros and cons. Be sure to talk with your doctor and weigh your options before deciding on a course of action.

For additional information about uterine fibroids, pelvic pain and heavy periods, visit

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