Fibroid embolization is considered to be very safe, however, there are some associated risks, as there are with almost any medical procedure. Most patients experience moderate to severe pain and cramping in the first several hours following the procedure; some experience nausea and, possibly, fever. These symptoms can be controlled with appropriate medications. Most symptoms are substantially improved by the next morning; however, there may be some pain and cramping for several days or more. Most women report returning to work within 7 to 10 days following the procedure.
Complications occur in fewer than 3% of patients. Serious possible complications include injury to the uterus from decreased blood supply or infection. This is uncommon and a hysterectomy to treat either of these complications occurs in less than 1% of patients. Injury to other pelvic organs is possible but has not yet been reported, and the chance of other significant complications is less than 1%. Long-term complications are not expected; although, questions about potential side effects are being evaluated in ongoing long-term studies.
It is not known what effect, if any, fibroid embolization has on the menstrual cycle. The overwhelming majority of women who have had embolization have had decreased bleeding with normal menstrual cycles. There have been a few women, most of whom are near the age of menopause, whose menstrual periods have stopped after the procedure. It is uncertain whether these cases are a result of decreased ovarian function resulting from the procedure. Based on this limited information, it appears that the procedure may cause a loss of menstrual cycles (premature menopause) in a very small number of patients. Less than two percent of patients have entered menopause as a result of UFE. This is more likely to occur if the woman is in her mid-forties or older and is already nearing menopause.