Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure done to destroy or shrink uterine fibroids. Your doctor put a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your upper thigh. Then the doctor sent a solution through the catheter to prevent your fibroids from getting blood.
You can expect to feel better each day. But you may get tired quickly. You may need about 1 to 2 weeks to fully recover.
You may have pain or cramps for several days after uterine fibroid embolization. But sometimes pain can last for a couple of weeks. You may also have mild nausea for several days. Some people have vaginal bleeding or grayish or brownish vaginal discharge for several weeks to months. These are all common side effects of the treatment.
Your next few menstrual cycles may be heavier than normal. Some people pass fibroid tissue for several months after the procedure.
Make sure to avoid heavy lifting for about a week.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start out by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- For 1 week, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weightlifting, and aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it's okay.
- You may shower. Do not take a bath for a few days or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- You may have some vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- You will probably need to take 1 week off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex or use tampons. Do not douche.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly for a few days.
- You may want to use a heating pad on your belly to help with pain.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
- You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
- You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- A fever.
- You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your artery.
- You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
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