Within the NHS there are three treatments that are routinely used to treat fibroids:
- Hysterectomy (surgery to remove the womb),
- Myomectomy (surgery to remove the fibroid)
- Uterine Artery Embolisation or UAE (where the blood supply to the artery is blocked).
With many women now looking for an alternative to hysterectomy, myomectomy and UAE are growing in favour. Gynaecologists will decide what is the best treatment for fibroids depending on their size, how many fibroids there are and where they are in the womb. However it may be that gynaecologists think that the fibroids will respond equally well to myomectomy and UAE.
With both myomectomy and UAE having their own risks and potential side effects, many health care professionals are uncertain which is the best treatment to offer to women who wish to retain their wombs abd this is why the research arm of the NHS have funded the FEMME trial.
FEMME is following the progress of 250 women over four years. Half of the women will be randomly allocated to have a myomectomy and the other half will receive a UAE. Using questionnaires that reflect how well women feel, FEMME will record the quality of life women say they have after they have undergone a myomectomy and this will be compared with the quality of life women report after having UAE.
FEMME is also going to measure how each procedure changes how much blood is lost as well examining if UAE and myomectomy change the level of ovarian hormones associated with fertility.
With FEMME we will measure the effectiveness of myomectomy and UAE and to help us do this information on any follow up procedures that women may have to undergo will also be collected.