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Can Uterine Fibroids Affect Fertility?

Uterine fibroids are very common among females of childbearing age, affecting 35%-77% according to the NIH. They are nearly always benign or non-cancerous, and many women have no recognizable symptoms alerting them to fibroids. Uterine fibroids don’t increase the risk for cancer of the uterus and for the most part uterine fibroids don’t have an impact on your fertility. But sometimes their presence makes it difficult to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.

According to another article published by the NIH, Uterine fibroids are the most common tumor in females. Researchers find that uterine fibroids may cause infertility in 2%-3% of cases and depending on their location they may pose a serious risk for recurring miscarriage. Here we take a look at how and when uterine fibroids affect your fertility.


What Are Uterine Fibroids?

As stated above, uterine fibroids are common and typically non-cancerous. These intramural tumors are muscular growths that occur within the muscle wall of the uterus. Fibroids in the uterus may be very small-about the size of an apple seed, or as big as a grapefruit.

They’re usually harmless, but may interfere with conception or, in some instances, cause miscarriage. The symptoms vary with the location of the fibroids and sometimes cause problems but generally those females who have uterine fibroids don’t experience symptoms.


Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

For those females who do experience symptoms of uterine fibroids life can get pretty uncomfortable. These symptoms disrupt day-to-day activities and may cause:


  • Heavy bleeding and long menstrual periods which may lead to iron-deficient anemia
  • Severe and debilitating menstrual cramps
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Feeling pressure or heaviness in the lower back, bowel or bladder
  • Bleeding between your menstrual periods


If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. There is no need to endure the effects of uterine fibroids.


Causes of Uterine Fibroids

Medical experts have yet to uncover the cause of fibroids in the uterus however there are certain risk factors common among females with uterine fibroids.


  • Age: Fibroids develop any time between puberty and menopause, but the risk increases after age 35.


  • Ethnicity: African American females are at higher risk.


  • Family History: If a close female family member has/had fibroids your risk triples over the average.


  • Hormones: While not a direct cause, excess estrogen contributes to the growth of fibroids.


  • Obesity: Obese females have a two to three times greater than average risk for uterine fibroids.


  • Diet: What you eat makes a difference in your fertility. Researchers link a diet high in processed meats, red meat and ham with an increased risk for developing fibroids. Conversely, a plant-centered diet protects females for fibroids.



Uterine Fibroids and Your Fertility

Uterine fibroids affect fertility in some instances. How they impact your reproduction depends on a few different factors such as the size of the fibroid and its location. For example, some fibroids grow in such a way that they block the fallopian tubes. Others grow large and change the shape of the uterus preventing implantation.

Recurring loss of pregnancy (miscarriage) is another risk of uterine fibroids. Some fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity and may prevent fetal growth. Some attach to the endometrial lining and impair blood flow to the uterus which may result in abnormal implantation.

Because of the risk to the fetus doctors don’t remove fibroids during pregnancy. In very rare instances and if the fibroids pose a miscarriage risk the doctor performs a myomectomy, or removal of the fibroid(s) in the second half of pregnancy.

For couples trying to conceive the issue may be fibroids. But it’s important that you see a doctor for an evaluation before blaming infertility on uterine fibroids. Often times there are other underlying conditions as well. To confirm the location and size of your fibroids your doctor uses transvaginal ultrasound.

Once your doctor confirms fibroids affect your fertility, you’ll decide on treatment together. Removal is best prior to any fertility treatments such as IVF. For those females with fertility issues related to fibroids the best approach, if possible, is a laparoscopic myomectomy. Your doctor performs this procedure using a laparoscope inserted through a small incision.

If a laparoscopic surgery isn’t possible, your doctor performs an abdominal myomectomy. Laparoscopic surgery is far less invasive and therefore requires minimal down time. Abdominal myomectomy usually requires 4-6 week recovery time.


Let’s Find Out if Uterine Fibroids Affect Your Fertility

If you suspect you have uterine fibroids or you are in a higher-risk group and experiencing difficulties trying to conceive, it’s time for an evaluation. Please reach out to LA IVF and let’s find out.

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