Hysterectomy may not always the best option—depending on the condition being treated. In recent years, efforts have been made to develop alternatives to hysterectomy and women and their physicians now have several options to consider.

In some cases, drug therapy, which may include oral contraceptives or hormonal medications, can be used to control heavy bleeding or shrink fibroids.

Endometrial ablation is an outpatient procedure to remove the lining of the uterus. This procedure may be effective for controlling heavy bleeding and other symptoms associated with endometriosis. Following this procedure, most women are unable to achieve pregnancy.

Uterine artery embolization is a surgical treatment used to block the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink in size.

Myomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove fibroids while leaving the uterus intact. This is an option for patients who want to have children, but there is some risk that fibroids will grow back after the surgery.

Focused ultrasound surgery is a non-invasive procedure that uses ultrasound waves and a specially adapted MRI scanner to pinpoint and destroy fibroid tumors.

Other alternative therapies include Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles and/or pessaries (plastic or silicone devices inserted in the vagina) for treatment of uterine prolapse, dilatation and curettage (D & C) to remove the contents and lining of the uterus, and laparoscopy or laparotomy to remove small fibroids.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 11 Jun 2001

Last Modified: 07 Jan 2015