Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that generally develop in the womb or uterus during a woman’s childbearing years. These noncancerous growths can cause a lot of pain and other adverse outcomes. Because they grow in the uterus, fibroids can affect fertility and pregnancy chances. However, it’s challenging to know the exact nature and specifics of this effect, and it varies from woman to woman.
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids and are pregnant, you may be concerned about the probable effects it could have on your pregnancy. However, rest assured that fibroids are pretty commonwith about 20% to 80% of women developing them by their 50th birthday and 30% of women between 24 and 44 showing symptoms of these noncancerous tumors. Here’s everything you need to know about how fibroids affect fertility and pregnancy.
How Fibroids Affect Fertility
Most women with fibroids won’t experience any issues while trying to have kids. Fibroids may remain small or grow in areas that have no effect on the reproductive system. So, you can get pregnant naturally even if you have fibroids. However, some fibroids may affect your chances of conceiving, staying pregnant, and carrying a baby to term. Depending on their location, fibroids can prevent the meeting of sperm and egg for conception. They may also hinder an embryo’s implantation ability.
Also, fibroids may grow excessively or in places that make it hard to maintain a pregnancy, and they may affect your fetus’ health and wellbeing, making it risky for your fetus. But how exactly do fibroids affect the ability to conceive? The answer mainly lies in the location of the fibroids. Here’s more:
- Some fibroids may alter the cervix’s shapeaffecting the number of sperm able to get in the uterus.
- Fibroids may block the fallopian tubes, making the fertilized egg’s journey to implantation hard or impossible. For example, submucosal fibroids, which develop and bulge into the uterine cavity, heighten the risk for infertility or miscarriage.
- According to Firoids, these growths may alter your uterus’ shape, Reducing the number of places where an embryo can implant successfully or limit the uterine space necessary for embryo development.
- Some fibroids are responsible for weakening the uterine cavity’s lining or blood reducing supply to a growing embryo, leading to miscarriage.
- Some fibroids may cause infertility for some women. However, it’s rare for fibroids to cause infertility, with other causes being more common.
Healthline advises women trying to conceive or maintain a pregnancy to speak to their doctor. He may check other probable causes before concluding that it’s fibroids causing infertility issues. However, if you’re aware that you have fibroids, speak to your doctor about their size and location and ask if they could affect your chances of conceiving or the ability to carry a pregnancy.
Also, ask if fibroid treatments can help increase your chances of pregnancy success.
How Fibroids Affect Pregnancy
Even though most pregnant women with fibroids go on to have normal pregnancies, sometimes fibroids may cause challenges. Here’s a breakdown of how fibroids affect pregnancy during each trimester:
The First Trimester
According to WebMD, Most fibroids don’t grow during pregnancy. But if it does happen, it’s most probably during your first trimester because they need estrogen to develop. During pregnancy, your body produces more estrogen. Common fibroid problems during the first trimester include:
- Pain and bleeding – Women who have fibroids may experience bleeding, pain, or both during the first trimester.
- Miscarriage– women with fibroids have higher chances of miscarriage during pregnancy compared to women who don’t have fibroids. Also, the larger or, the more the fibroids, the higher the chances of miscarriage.
Second and Third Trimesters
As your uterus grows to make room for your growing baby, it may push against the fibroid, causing several issues during pregnancy.
- Pain – This is the most common fibroids’ symptom, especially if they’re big. These growths may sometimes twist, causing discomfort and cramping. In other cases, the fibroids outgrow their blood supply, causing them to turn red and die. The process is known as “red degeneration” and can lead to severe stomach pain. In some instances, the process can cause miscarriage. You can take over-the-counter pain-relief medications such as Tylenol but avoid ibuprofen, especially in your first trimester, because it may lead to gestation and last trimester issues. It could also cause miscarriage, lower the amniotic fluid amount, or cause heart problems in your child.
- Preterm delivery – Women with fibroids have a higher chance of preterm delivery; that is, the baby is born before 37 weeks.
- Placental abruption– Pregnant women with fibroids have a higher probability of experiencing placental abruption compared to women without them. It happens when the placenta tears away from the uterine walls before delivery. It’s a severe case since your baby’s oxygen supply is reduced, and you can experience heavy bleeding that you go into shock.
- Increases chance of a C-section– Your chances of getting a C-section if you have fibroids are six times higher because they keep the uterus from contracting and can block your birth canal, slowing down labor progress.
Treatment For Fibroids
Here are various ways to treat fibroids during pregnancy and to increase fertility chances.
A doctor may advise several surgical procedures to help treat fibroids during pregnancy.
- Myomectomy– if the fibroids are especially large that they may have profound implications, a surgeon may do a myomectomy to remove the fibroids during pregnancy. This is rarely done as the surgery can lead to further. It’s becoming common for doctors to remove fibroids during a cesarean section, but it’s still risky. So, doctors only do it if it’s necessary. It’s more desirable for women to wait until after childbirth to remove these noncancerous growths.
- Hysterectomy– It is currently the main procedure surgeons perform for fibroids treatment. It is the most effective fibroid removal method that guarantees the risk of fibroids not coming back. However, since the process involves removal, it’s only advisable for women who don’t want to have kids.
Treatment for women trying to conceive:
According to Medical News Today, if a doctor diagnoses fibroids before conception, he can treat them before you get pregnant. However, the treatments available are short-lived and may not be effective. A woman may undergo:
- Fibroid removal surgery
- Hormonal therapy – Doctors may recommend several forms of birth control, including implants and pills or gonadotropin-releasing hormone injections (GnRH). However, experts recommend using IUDs for fibroids because they have the least side effects.
- High-intensity ultrasound treatment
- Myolysis– A procedure that uses a laser, electric current, or radio-frequency energy to shrink the blood vessels that feed the uterine fibroids.
WebMD, Healthline, Fibroids, Medical News Today
20 Important Facts About Fibroids Moms Need To Know Before Having Babies
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