Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. These benign tumors are also referred to as myomas and leiomyomas, and they can change the shape of a woman’s uterus, sometimes significantly. The size and shape of a fibroid can vary. Some fibroids as small as seeds and others as large as a grapefruit.
Many people in the Lubbock, TX area have asked Dr. Janelle Dorsett how uterine fibroids affect female fertility. It can vary, and it takes someone skilled in fertility medicine to determine the ideal course of action. The team at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine covers the basics.
Types of Uterine Fibroids
There are different types of fibroids depending on where they develop:
- Subserosal fibroids form along the outer wall of the uterus
- Intramural fibroids are located in the muscle layers of the uterine wall
- Submucosal fibroids develop under the lining of the uterine cavity
- Pedunculated fibroids grow on a stalk located inside or outside of the uterus
What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
The exact cause of uterine fibroids is still unknown. Researchers have found links to hormone changes and various genetic factors, but research is ongoing.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
A number of patients who have fibroids have visited our Lubbock fertility center. Some common signs and symptoms they’ve reported include:
- Heavy flow during periods
- Menstruation lasting longer than a week
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Frequent need to urinate
- Difficulty urinating
- Back pain
- Leg pain
Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, some women do not experience any symptoms at all.
Can Fibroids Cause Female Infertility?
Somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of women struggling with infertility have fibroids. Some estimates put that number as high as 20 percent. The location of the fibroids is a key factor. Fibroids can prevent the passage of sperm to the fallopian tubes or the ability for an egg to implant in the uterus following fertilization.
That said, many women with fibroids can still become pregnant without any issues.
Can Fibroids Affect the Viability of a Pregnancy?
Sometimes fertilization is not an issue but maintaining a healthy pregnancy is. If an embryo implants along the uterine wall, the reduced size of the uterine cavity can potentially affect the viability of a pregnancy. A miscarriage can occur in some cases.
We should also note that pregnancy loss is not a factor in all women who have fibroids. The size and location of the fibroids will make a major difference in terms of affecting pregnancy.
Do My Fibroids Need Treatment?
The need for fibroid treatment can vary from patient to patient. Once again, size and location of the uterine fibroids are important to take into account.
Many women who have small fibroids will not require any treatment to become pregnant or carry a child to term. Women with large fibroids will want to consider medical treatment or fertility procedures if recommended by their doctor.
Fertility Procedures for Patients with Fibroids
If fibroids affect the ability for natural conception, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended to circumvent any growths that block sperm. For issues with pregnancy loss, a gestational carrier/surrogate may be considered to carry a couple’s baby to term without a risk of miscarriage.
Learn More About Fertility Procedures
If you live in the Lubbock area and would like more information about treating infertility and helping you become pregnant, be sure to contact a skilled fertility specialist. You can reach the Centre for Reproductive Medicine by phone at (806) 788-1212.