Fibroids and Fertility
November 27, 2019
Understanding how fibroids affect fertility is important for women who are trying to conceive. We have information on everything you need to know about uterine fibroids, including what they are, how they form, how they can affect fertility and conception, and how they’re treated.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop in the muscle tissue of the uterus.1 They also may be referred to as myomas or leiomyomas. Uterine fibroids can vary in their size, shape and location within the body.1 Women may develop uterine fibroids inside the uterus, on its outer surface, or on stems projecting from the surface of the uterus. Women may develop one or multiple fibroids, and they can be very small or can develop rapidly in size.1
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are most common among women ages 30 to 40.1 However women can develop them at any age. This is why it’s important to understand fibroid symptoms and get regular exams from your gynecologist.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, check with your doctor:1
- Changes in menstruation, including longer, more frequent or heavy menstrual periods.
- Menstrual pain (cramps)
- Vaginal bleeding at times other than menstruation
- Anemia (from blood loss)
- Pain in the abdomen or lower back area
- Pain during sex
- Difficulty urinating or more frequent urinating
- Constipation or rectal pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Enlarged uterus and abdomen
Please note that it is also possible to have uterine fibroids and have no obvious symptoms. Again, this is why it’s important to get regular exams and pay attention to your body.1
Fibroids’ Impact on Fertility and Conception
The size and exact location of fibroids will determine whether or not they will impact a woman’s ability to conceive. Because uterine fibroids develop in or around the uterus, they may impede the conception process by blocking fallopian tubes or distorting the shape of the cervix or uterus, which can make the uterine lining less receptive to implantation.2
It is possible for women with uterine fibroids to become pregnant and have a healthy, normal pregnancy. In fact, most doctors only recommend monitoring fibroids during pregnancy, rather than removing them, as the procedure can cause risks to the fetus.2
Many women who have uterine fibroids will not require treatment. However, if the size, shape or location of fibroids has the potential to cause health or fertility complications, treatment may be necessary.
Drug therapy is one option for treating the unpleasant symptoms caused by fibroids. Hormonal birth control can help regulate menstruation and reduce heavy, irregular or uncomfortable periods.1
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists are another drug option that stops menstruation and can shrink fibroids. Because GnRH agonists have multiple side effects, they are generally only used for short-term treatment plans (less than six months).1
Progestin-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs) can be an option for women who have fibroids that do not distort the inside of the uterus. This option can reduce heavy, painful menstrual bleeding but will not affect the fibroids themselves.1
Surgical options to treat fibroids include myomectomy and hysterectomy. Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids while leaving the uterus in place. Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus itself. Hysterectomy is normally only considered in the treatment of fibroids if other methods have been ineffective or the fibroids are very large in size.1 A woman is unable to have a baby after having a hysterectomy; for this reason, this procedure is not considered lightly.
Key Points to Discuss with Your Doctor
If you have fibroids or suspect you may have them, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Here are a few key talking points to cover when you see your gynecologist:
- Discuss any changes you’ve noticed in your menstrual cycle, especially if you notice your periods are heavier than normal or if you’re experiencing more cramping.
- Don’t be shy when it comes to talking about sex. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort during intimacy, tell your doctor.
- Discuss your plans for having children. Even if you don’t plan on conceiving right away, make sure your doctor knows your goals for the future so he or she can create a treatment plan that works for you.
Please note that the information in this post is meant to educate – not alarm. Women who develop fibroids can still conceive and have a healthy pregnancy, as long as they visit the doctor regularly and are monitored for any potential issues. In addition, staying fit, committing to self-care and adding a daily prescription prenatal vitamin are steps all women can take to avoid fertility issues.
Prenate Pixie®, part of the Prenate® Vitamin Family line of prenatal vitamins, may be an ideal supplement for women in the pre-conception planning phase. During this phase, it is vital for omen to get the recommended daily intake of folic acid and other key nutrients. Talk to your doctor to learn about the benefits of adding a daily prenatal vitamin to your prenatal care plan today.