Can I Get Pregnant with Fibroids and What are the Risks to My Baby?
- Created: June 17, 2016
- by: Leah Johnson
A common issue that 20% to 40% of women encounter at least once in their lifetime is the growth of fibroids. Some demographics, particularly African-American women, are more likely to get fibroids. In fact, black women are three times more likely to experience fibroids and the growth of these benign tumors often occur earlier in life than normal. If you currently have fibroids or if fibroids appear to run in your family, you may be wondering how fibroids will affect future pregnancies. Here is everything you need to know about the impact of fibroids on pregnancies and the risks fibroids may pose to your baby.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors that are noncancerous in nature. These fibroids grow in the muscle tissue of the uterus. While fibroids commonly grow in the uterine wall, they can also grow outside the uterine wall or even into your uterine cavity. Women can, and often do, have more than one fibroid in their uterus at a time. Fibroids are commonly referred to as myomas or uterine leoimyomas.
The size of fibroids varies drastically. Fibroids can be pea-sized but they can also grow to be as large as a melon or basketball. Even though fibroids can grow to become incredibly large, they are almost always benign. However, large fibroids can negatively affect the function of both the uterus and nearby organs. This is especially true if there are multiple large fibroids and not just one.
What are symptoms of fibroids in pregnant women?
In many cases, women only find out that they have fibroids in their uterus when they go for their first ultrasound to monitor the development of the baby. This is because fibroids often cause no symptoms. However, in some cases, women will start to experience symptoms of fibroids during and after their pregnancy. The most common symptoms in expecting mothers include pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes an increase in the level of white blood cells in the blood. Pain medication is usually recommended to women to help them cope with the pain and discomfort.
While fibroids can be removed in a number of ways, a woman cannot have her fibroids removed once she is pregnant. During a pregnancy, the uterus is far more prone to bleeding. Therefore, the fibroids can’t be removed from the uterus. If a pregnant woman wants to have her fibroids removed from her uterus, she will have to wait until after she delivers the baby. That way, the risk of excessive bleeding or other complications is far lower.
What impact do fibroids have on fertility?
The effect that uterine fibroids have on fertility varies from woman to woman. Based on various studies, it is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of all infertile women have at least one fibroid. However, this does not necessarily mean that the fibroids caused these women to be infertile.
In general, the effect uterine fibroids have on fertility depends mostly on size and location. For example, fibroids that occur within the uterine cavity are more likely to result in infertility than fibroids that occur in other areas of the uterus. Also, fibroids in the wall of the uterus that are larger than six centimeters in diameter are also likely to cause infertility. Fortunately, large fibroids and growths that occur in the uterine cavity are uncommon.
The vast majority of women will not become infertile due to fibroids. If you suspect that fibroids are impacting your fertility, you and your partner should be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that other issues aren’t the cause of infertility.
How can fibroids cause infertility?
While fibroids normally don’t impact fertility, there are several ways these growths can reduce fertility. The most common way fibroids cause infertility is by growing too large. Excessively large fibroids can potentially change the shape of your uterus or cervix. If the shape of the cervix is affected, this may reduce the number of sperm that are able to enter your uterus. A distorted uterus can affect the embryo or the movement of sperm within the uterus.
In some cases, the fibroids will block the fallopian tubes, which will reduce the ability of a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Fibroids in the uterine cavity can impact the size of the cavity’s lining. Finally, if fibroids affect the flow of blood to the uterine cavity, this can reduce the ability of any embryos to implant in the uterine wall to further develop.
What are the risks that fibroids pose to an unborn baby?
If you are pregnant and you have fibroids, you may be worried about the risks fibroids may potentially pose to your unborn baby. Fibroids occasionally lead to complications during a pregnancy. A common example of such a complication is a large fibroid obstructing the opening of the uterus. In such a scenario, doctors will likely have the woman deliver her baby via a C-section. In most cases, fibroids will not pose so great of a risk to an unborn baby that a miscarriage occurs. Extremely large fibroids can affect the position of the baby in the uterus. This may increase the risk of a preterm delivery for the unborn baby.
What should pregnant women with fibroids expect?
When it comes to fibroids, pregnant women don’t have to worry too much. Fibroids occur only in about 10% of all pregnant women. This is likely because fibroids tend to appear later in life for women rather than earlier. In some cases, fibroids will change size in pregnant women. Fibroids may grow larger or become smaller during a pregnancy. Usually, the change in size of the fibroids occurs in the first three months of pregnancy.
It is natural for pregnant women to be concerned over the well-being of their unborn baby. Fortunately, pregnant women have little to worry about if they have fibroids. To be safe, it is best to consult your physician about the possible impact your fibroids will have on your pregnancy.