Having a child is one of the best feelings in the world. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of having one due to multiple reasons – low sperm count, abnormalities in the uterus, or even missing or extra chromosomes in the sperm cells. However, there is one type of condition that is haunting a lot of women today that they believe greatly affect their ability to conceive – fibroids.
Uterine fibroids can be common. So before you panic, here are some of the things you should know about this concept and find out how it can or cannot affect your fertility and pregnancy.
What is Uterine Fibroid?
Uterine fibroids are one of the many conditions that can cause infertility. Also known as myoma or leiomyoma, uterine fibroids are benign or non-cancerous tumors of muscle tissue that can change the shape or size of your uterus and at time, will affect your cervix as well.As a matter of fact, most fibroids are small and do not cause any symptoms. However, it can be detected through routine pelvic examination or ultrasound.
Fibroids start out as smooth muscles inside the wall of your uterus. Then it will form into multiple noncancerous tumors, although single fibroids are still possible. It is also shown that 20% of women in the reproductive years, particularly of African descent and women who are obese or overweight can be at risk of fibroid formation.
The exact cause of growth of fibroids is still unknown however, experts believe that just like tumors, fibroids are related to a gene that controls cell growth or can also be affected by reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.
What are the Types of Uterine Fibroids?
Fibroids are usually found in or in the body of the uterus. It can be divided into three categories:
- Subserous, or fibroids located in the outer wall of the uterus, which is usually 55%.
- Intramural (within the wall), or fibroids found in the muscular layers of the uterine wall, which are 45% more likely to happen.
- Submucous, or fibroids protruding into the uterine cavity, which is rare at 5%. This can cause distortion of the uterine cavity or may obstruct the cervical canal that can either affect fertility or cause pregnancy complications.
Aside from this, fibroids can also be connected to the uterus through a stalk, also referred to as pedunculated, or attached to nearby organs such as bladder or ligaments surrounding the uterus.
What is the Relationship Between Fibroids and Fertility?
So it turns out that fibroids are non-cancerous. The question now is how will it affect women and their capability to carry a child?
Generally and depending on the type of uterine fibroids, they do not affect a woman’s fertility. You can still have fibroids without being infertile. Believe it or not, most women with fibroids can still have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies with no complications. In fact, fibroids are found in up to 12% of pregnant women and do not increase in size. In case it grows, it will only do so in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and shrinks as the pregnancy continues. Still, this need to be thoroughly checked by your doctor to make sure you and the baby are safe. There may be instances when fibroids will outgrow its blood supply and cause severe pain, or change the baby’s position at birth, or increase the risk of caesarian section, miscarriage or pre-term delivery.
In other words, there are still risks associated with uterine fibroids despite being benign.
For instance, developing submucous fibroid can cause uterine bleeding, making it difficult for you to get pregnant. Since it protrudes into the uterine cavity or causes distortion into it, this can be a problem when implantation time comes.
In case you have large fibroids, you may experience difficulties during pregnancy itself even if you don’t have submucous fibroids. There is a chance of breech presentation of the fetus, premature rupture of the bag of waters and even abruption placenta or a condition wherein the placenta separates from the uterine wall during pregnancy.
Is there a Way to Treat it?
Yes. Medication that slows down or stops fibroid growth is possible. In this case, you can buy Lupron. On the other hand, undergoing surgical procedures such as myomectomy can remove the fibroids, help preserve fertility and leave the healthy areas of the uterus intact. Or you can go for uterine artery embolization to stop the blood supply to the uterus and shrink the fibroids.
To sum it up, uterine fibroids should not be considered as the cause of infertility or significant component infertility unless fertility evaluation is conducted. It’s just a matter of understanding your condition and knowing the best approach to make sure infertility will be addressed. Better have yourself checked or be sorry in the end.