Uterine fibroids are extremely common. About 75% of women will experience them at some point. They’re benign (noncancerous) and range from symptomless to painful. You may not even know you have them unless they’re discovered by ultrasound.
What happens if you get pregnant when you have fibroids? And if you’ve had surgery for fibroids, how will that affect any future pregnancies? Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, explains how fibroids affect your pregnancy.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are outgrowths of muscle tissue. They can grow inside or outside your uterus's endometrial cavity (where the baby grows). Many women don’t even know they have them until their doctor discovers them during a pelvic exam or ultrasound.
Fibroids can range from pea-size to larger than a grapefruit. They can also grow in clusters.
The symptoms of fibroids
If you have symptomatic fibroids, some of the common signs include the following:
- Heavy periods
- Increased cramping
- Prolonged periods
- A feeling of fullness in your abdomen
- Lower backache
- Anemia (low iron count due to extra blood loss)
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
When you’re not pregnant, we can discuss ways to manage these symptoms.
How fibroids can affect your pregnancy
Fibroids may not affect your pregnancy at all, though if you have them, Dr. Weyhrich monitors their size throughout your pregnancy. Sometimes, they grow in your first trimester but then stop growing. They may even shrink in later pregnancy.
Large growths, especially those inside your endometrial cavity, could affect your pregnancy.
Dr. Weyhrich may need to surgically remove large fibroids even though you’re pregnant if they pose a risk to your baby, such as:
- Placental abruption, when the placenta wall detaches from your uterus
- Fetal growth restriction, when the baby can’t grow as large as it needs to
- Preterm labor due to fibroid-related cramping
- Breech birth, improper position for delivery due to changes in the uterus’ shape
- Increased risk of Cesarean section
We know these risks and will closely monitor you and your baby during pregnancy.
How fibroids can affect future pregnancies
If you have fibroids, they may affect future pregnancies by making it harder to get pregnant again, and you may be more likely to miscarry.
Sometimes, Dr. Weyhrich removes the fibroids when you’re not pregnant. This surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and is minimally invasive. If you’ve had this surgery, he recommends you wait at least three months before trying to conceive.
If you have fibroids in or on your uterus, you don’t necessarily need surgery; you may be able to manage them with rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Contact Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, in Boise, Idaho, or request an appointment online.