Objective: To assess the effect of nonsurgical management of leiomyomas, abnormal uterine bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain on symptoms and quality of life.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of women receiving nonsurgical management (n = 380) or hysterectomy (n = 311) for leiomyomas, abnormal uterine bleeding, or chronic pelvic pain. Patients recruited from the practices of 63 physicians throughout Maine were interviewed at the outset of treatment and 3, 6, and 12 months later. The principal outcome measures were frequency and severity of physical and psychological symptoms, and quality of life as measured by validated indices of mental and general health and physical activity.
Results: Medical therapy for abnormal bleeding and chronic pelvic pain produced significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life. However, almost one-quarter of patients initially treated nonsurgically subsequently underwent hysterectomy; of patients continuing nonsurgical therapy, 25% with abnormal bleeding and 50% with chronic pelvic pain reported substantial levels of symptoms after 1 year. There were no significant changes in symptoms and quality of life in patients treated nonsurgically for leiomyomas. New problems including tiredness, hot flashes, weight gain, and depression developed in 10% or less of women who did not report these symptoms preoperatively. A logistic regression analysis controlling for age, reproductive history, and severity of symptoms showed that hysterectomy was the factor most highly correlated with a positive outcome at 1 year for all three conditions.
Conclusions: Many women with leiomyomas, abnormal bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain report improved symptoms over time with nonsurgical management. Hysterectomy remains an important alternative when conservative treatment fails.