How do fibroids affect childbearing and fertility?
It’s common for women to experience fibroids while they’re trying to get pregnant. In fact, up to 70% of women have fibroids by the time they reach menopause. Most of the time, these endometrial growths don’t affect fertility or pregnancy at all—but if you have a large one that’s causing serious symptoms like heavy bleeding or pelvic pain, it may impact your ability to become pregnant or carry to term.
Fibroids and their location can affect fertility and childbearing.
Fibroids can be located in different areas of the uterus. Fibroids may affect your ability to have children by:
- interfering with implantation or the growth of an embryo
- causing miscarriage
Why can fibroids potentially affect childbearing and fertility?
Fibroids are growths of tissue in the uterus. They can be found in women of all ages, including those who have never had children and those who’ve had children. These fibroid tumors can vary in size, shape and location. They’re usually benign (that is, they are not cancerous), but they can cause symptoms, including heavy menstrual bleeding or pelvic pain, which can be worse if they grow large enough to press on other organs.
Fibroids are more common in African-American and Hispanic women than white women. They also occur at any age and can be as small as a pea or as large as a melon (which would definitely make it difficult to carry a child!).
Fibroids may cause the uterus to become enlarged, which alters the shape of a woman’s uterus and may contribute to difficulty in becoming pregnant. Fibroids can also cause heavy menstrual bleeding that can interfere with ovulation (the release of eggs from an ovary) or causes infertility – inability to get pregnant; when this happens, fibroids may need to be removed surgically before pregnancy is attempted.
They may or may not have any symptoms.
Fibroids can be asymptomatic, or they can cause pain, bleeding, or other symptoms. If you do have fibroids and they are causing problems with your fertility:
- Fibroids are often associated with infertility.
- Fibroid-related complications during pregnancy may result in miscarriage or preterm birth.
- Fibroids can cause early labor due to their influence on the cervix (the opening into your uterus).
Fibroids can cause heavy or irregular bleeding and pain, which may contribute to infertility.
Fibroids can cause heavy or irregular bleeding. If you are having these symptoms, it is important to get it checked out as it may be a sign of another condition, such as an infection. Conditions that cause heavy or irregular bleeding can make it hard for you to conceive a baby.
If you have painful periods (dysmenorrhea), this could also prevent you from conceiving. Even if your periods aren’t particularly painful, heavy or irregular bleeding can reduce blood flow through your body during ovulation time and lead to anovulatory cycles (where ovulation doesn’t occur). If you are having painful, heavy or irregular bleeding, it can be associated with a decrease in fertility.
You may have only slight, mild symptoms that go unnoticed until you try to get pregnant and realize you can’t, or until you’re regularly having trouble getting pregnant.
Symptoms of fibroids can include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Lower back pain (especially during your period)
- Abdominal bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
If you do experience these symptoms, come in for a consult as soon as possible so we can help you to address and manage them.
Sometimes fibroids can cause infertility by disrupting the implantation of a fertilized egg or by blocking the fallopian tube and preventing the egg from entering into the uterus.
If you have fibroids and wish to get pregnant, it’s important to ensure that your doctor is aware of them so that he or she can determine if treatment is necessary before you start trying for a baby.
Fibroids are often an incidental finding, so it’s important to be evaluated if you’re unable to conceive.
It’s important to be evaluated if you’re unable to conceive. Fibroids are often an incidental finding (that means we find them by accident while checking you out for something else), so it’s important to be evaluated if you’re unable to conceive. Fibroids can be treated with medication or surgery (such as a myomectomy or hysterectomy), but we can often treat them through a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Sometimes, treating your fibroids will allow you to become pregnant, but sometimes you will still need further evaluation for other causes of infertility. You won’t know until you start the process.
If fibroids are diagnosed, you should consider all treatment options.
If you are diagnosed with fibroids, there are several treatment options to consider. Your age, health, and fertility goals should all be taken into account when deciding what to do.
If you want to remain fertile, the right approach might be medication therapy or a minimally invasive procedure such as the UFE. It can help preserve your ability to conceive and deliver a baby naturally if that’s something you want to consider.
While some women with fibroids do have healthy pregnancies, other cases require treatment to improve the chance of conception.
While some women with fibroids are able to have healthy pregnancies, other cases require treatment to improve chances of pregnancy. The good news is that we can offer you an option for treatment of fibroids that maintains the possibility of a pregnancy in the future.The first step is to have a thorough evaluation to determine what is causing your infertility. If fibroids are contributing, we can help you create a treatment plan that keeps your ability to conceive.