Your doctor has mentioned that you have uterine fibroids, but what does that mean? And will they affect your fertility? That depends on a few factors.
Fibroids range in size from tiny to large, and their size determines how much they impact you. Some may not cause symptoms at all but others can seriously affect your quality of life and your fertility. Here, the team at Darin L.Weyhrich, MD, explains more about fibroids and fertility.
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are usually noncancerous tumors that grow in your uterus. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 fibroids are cancerous.
There are four different types of uterine fibroids:
- Intramural (which grow in the wall of the uterus)
- Subserosal (which grow on the outside of the uterus)
- Submucosal (these grow in the uterine cavity)
- Pedunculated (these grow outside of the uterus and are attached by a stem)
Fibroids range in size from as small as a seed to as large as a grapefruit. You can also have more than one.
The symptoms of fibroids
While your fibroids may not present any symptoms, you may have problems that indicate their presence. Some of the symptoms of fibroids (especially large ones) include:
- A feeling of abdominal fullness
- Chronic discharge from your vagina
- Bleeding between periods
- Problems urinating
- Heavy periods, long periods, or menstrual pain
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
These symptoms tend to fade after menopause for most women, because the absence of hormones causes the symptoms to disappear.
How fibroids can affect your fertility
If you don’t have symptoms associated with your fibroids, they may not affect your fertility at all. However, some fibroids can impact your fertility and your pregnancy in some of the following ways:
- Abnormal placentas
- Bleeding early in your pregnancy
- Breech presentation
- Increased likelihood of needing a Cesarean section
- Placental abruption
- Pain in the second and third trimester, especially with larger fibroids
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Slow or delayed labor
- Delivery before term
The type and size of your fibroids, along with other haleth variables, determine whether they will impact your fertility.
Fibroids and infertility
Fibroids are the most common tumor affecting women, and they seem to be linked to infertility. However, which type of fibroids you have determines whether or not they will affect your fertility and how they should be treated.
Intramural fibroids appear to be associated with infertility, though the recommendation of what to do about them remains unclear.
Submucosal fibroids have the greatest negative impact on fertility. Pregnancy and live birth rates tend to be low for women with this type of fibroid, although removing them may offer some benefit.
Subserosal fibroids are usually not implicated in infertility, and removal isn’t recommended.
Some fibroids may also increase your risk of miscarriage, especially if they’re large or located in certain places in your uterus.
How we treat fibroids
We normally discover fibroids during a pelvic exam, and we confirm the diagnosis with one of the following methods:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Hysterosalpingography (HSG)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
We may decide to remove your fibroids, especially if they’re causing symptoms or you’re experiencing miscarriages. Removing fibroids is done surgically in a procedure called a myomectomy.
If you have fibroids and are experiencing symptoms, schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Contact our team at Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, or request an appointment online.