After a fibroid embolisation

Fibroid embolisation

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the wall of the womb. Sometimes, they become very large. Fibroid embolisation is a minimally invasive procedure, which blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids and makes them shrink.

This information is about returning to your everyday activities after the fibroid embolisation procedure. If you have any questions, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you.

What happens after the procedure

After a fibroid embolisation procedure, you stay in the recovery room for a short time. We then take you to a ward.

How you recover in your hospital bed depends on where we put in the catheter during the procedure (the puncture site):

  • If we put the catheter in your right groin, you will need to lie flat in bed for 2 hours. You will then sit up in bed for another 2 hours.
  • If we put the catheter in your left wrist, you will need to sit up in bed for 2 hours. There is no need to lie flat for 2 hours first.

We confirm the guidance that you need to follow, which depends on your individual recovery process.

While you recover, we:

  • check your blood pressure and pulse regularly
  • put a clip on your finger to measure the oxygen level in your blood
  • check the pulse of your foot (pedal pulse) at the bottom of your ankle (this is not painful)
  • check regularly for any signs of bleeding at the puncture site where we put in the catheter on your right groin or left wrist

To help you manage pain, we start patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). We give you a pump and you can decide when to give yourself pain medicine by pressing a button. This method of pain management continues while you are in the ward for the next 12 hours.

How you are likely to feel

Everyone gets a bit of bruising at the puncture site, where we put in the catheter during the procedure. This area is usually sore and uncomfortable for a few days.

You are likely to have some cramp-like pain similar to period pain after the procedure, especially for the first 12 hours. The level of pain is different for each person. You may also feel or be sick.

We give you strong painkillers and anti-sickness medicine while you are in hospital. You need to stay overnight.

After a successful fibroid embolisation and overnight stay in the hospital, you can usually go home on the next day. This is provided that your pain after the procedure is well controlled with medicines that you take by mouth.

Our interventional radiology (IR) team reviews you in the ward on the next day. We give you a 2-week supply of painkillers and laxatives to help soften your poo.

You need a responsible adult to travel home with you.

When you go home

Here is some guidance to help you when you go home after a fibroid embolisation:


  • Arrange for a responsible adult to travel home with you.
  • Call 020 7188 2888 (Monday to Friday, 7:45am to 7pm) if you need to arrange hospital transport to take you home.
  • Eat and drink as usual after the procedure. You may have a reduced appetite for a few days, but try to keep eating (even if you can only manage small portions). Nutrition is important in your recovery process.
  • Continue taking any medicines as usual, except for diabetes medicines containing metformin. You need to stop these for 2 days after the procedure.
  • Check the puncture site where we put in the catheter during the procedure (your left wrist or right groin) regularly.
  • Continue to do your usual daily activities.
  • Listen to your body and avoid doing too much, too soon when you are ready to start exercising again.


  • Do not drive for 48 hours (2 days) after the procedure. This is to give the puncture site where we put in the catheter time to heal.
  • Do not stay in bed for long periods while you recover. This is to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a vein (usually in the leg).
  • Do not carry out any heavy exercise for 2 weeks after the procedure while your body is healing.
  • Do not lift heavy items for 2 to 4 weeks after the procedure. This is to avoid putting pressure on your tummy (abdomen), which could increase your pain.

Side effects of the procedure

After a fibroid embolisation, it is common to have some side effects while you recover.

For a few days, you might have mild nausea (when you feel sick) and a body temperature slightly above normal.

You might feel tired and drained for 1 to 2 weeks and need to rest during this time. This is to be expected and your symptoms should improve in the next few days.

The other possible side effects are listed in this section.

Cramps in the tummy

After the procedure, you may get a cramp-like feeling in your lower tummy (abdomen) at intervals for several days. This is a similar feeling to period pain and can come and go in waves.

The cramps are most severe during the first day after the procedure. They should improve quickly in the next few days.

You may continue to have some manageable pain or discomfort at intervals for up to 2 weeks. When you leave hospital, we give you painkillers that you can take by mouth as prescribed to control the pain.

Bruising, bleeding or swelling

After the procedure, you may notice some bruising at the puncture site where we put in the catheter. 

Bleeding or swelling is rare. If this does happen, lie down and put pressure directly on the area for 10 minutes.

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

the bleeding or swelling continues after 10 minutes

Vaginal discharge

You are likely to have leaking fluid from the vagina (vaginal discharge). This can be brown, bloody, yellow or mucus-like (slippery and wet). It is the breakdown product of the fibroids.

You usually get vaginal discharge for about 2 weeks, but sometimes it can last longer.

Contact the IR department, your gynaecologist or a GP, or go to A&E, if:

  • the leaking fluid (vaginal discharge) becomes very smelly
  • you feel generally unwell and have pain, a high temperature (fever) or chills (shivers)

Fibroid expulsion

You may pass (expel) bits of fibroids from the body for several months after the procedure. This depends on the overall size and place of the fibroids. It happens when fibroid tissue near the lining of the womb shrinks and partly breaks off (detaches).

The bits of fibroid can have different sizes and look like grey body tissue. This is normal and there is no need to do anything.

Very rarely, if you pass a larger fibroid, you may need to see your gynaecologist. They can help to remove it. You may then feel like a fleshy mass is passing painlessly out of your vagina.

Returning to work

We usually recommend that you take up to 2 weeks off work after a fibroid embolisation procedure. This depends on:

  • what type of work you do
  • how flexible your work can be
  • how you feel

After the procedure, you may feel tired for 1 to 2 weeks and need to rest.

Having sex

We recommend that you:

  • avoid penetrative sex for at least 4 weeks after the procedure
  • do not get pregnant for 6 months and use suitable contraception (a GP can give you advice about this)

After 4 weeks, you can have sex provided that you do not have pain or smelly discharge from the vagina.

What to wear during your periods

We recommend that you avoid using tampons after the procedure when you have your periods. You need to do this:

  • for at least 4 weeks
  • until any leaking fluid from the vagina (vaginal discharge) has improved or cleared

You can use sanitary pads instead during this time to prevent and reduce the risk of infection.

Follow-up appointments

You have follow-up appointments by phone with the interventional radiology (IR) clinical nurse specialists after:

  • 2 to 3 weeks
  • 6 months

These appointments are intended to make sure that you are well after the procedure.

If you have any concerns after the procedure, please contact the interventional radiology (IR) department or your gynaecologist for advice.

Appointments at King's College Hospital

We work with King's College Hospital in a partnership called the King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.

We work together with King's College Hospital to give our patients the best possible care. This means that we might invite you for appointments at King's College Hospital.

We might also share information about you between the hospitals. This is to make sure that everyone you meet always has the most up-to-date information about your health.

Resource number: 1717/VER6
Last reviewed: May 2024
Next review due: May 2027

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