Uterine FibroidsWomen's Health
How Uterine Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy
For those trying to become pregnant, it can be frustrating to see negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. This often leads to many doctors visits to try and determine the cause behind this struggle, sometimes with no answer.
Fibroids are common noncancerous tumors in the uterus. Because of their placement, they can change the shape or size of the uterus and, in some cases, the cervix. Additionally, women with fibroids typically have more than one, further altering the shape of the uterus.
This can cause many women to wonder if fibroids are behind their infertility.
Can Fibroids Cause Infertility?
Fibroids are found in 5-10% of infertile women, with the size and the location of the fibroids a significant factor in whether or not the fibroids affect fertility. Some examples of fibroids that affect fertility include very large fibroids (>6 cm in diameter) in the wall of the uterus or fibroids inside the uterine cavity.
Because only a small percentage of infertile women have fibroids, assessing other fertility problems before treating fibroids is important.
However, for those with fibroids, there are many ways in which they can impact fertility:
- changing the shape of the uterus, interfering with the movement of the sperm or embryo
- changing the shape of the cervix, affecting the number of sperm able to enter the uterus
- impacting the size of the uterine cavity lining
- blocking the fallopian tubes
- affecting the blood flow to the uterine cavity, making it harder for the embryo to implant in the uterine wall or develop
Can You Get Pregnant with Fibroids?
While fibroids can cause problems with fertility in some women, many women are still able to become pregnant with fibroids, and they are found in 2-12% of pregnant women.
For pregnant women with fibroids, though, there are some concerns to monitor throughout the course of the pregnancy. For example, fibroids can outgrow their blood supply, causing pain, or change the baby’s position, increasing the risk of miscarriage, cesarean section, or preterm delivery.
Treating Uterine Fibroids
For women who are trying to become pregnant, but have fibroids impacting this ability, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an appealing treatment method.
One of the most common treatments for fibroids is hysterectomy, but for women who want to become pregnant, this is not a favorable treatment as it means they will never be able to become pregnant.
UFE has the advantage of preserving the uterus, making it so women can still become pregnant. A study on patients who had tried to get pregnant for two years unsuccessfully and had no reason for their infertility besides fibroids were given UFE. Around 30% of the women included in the study became pregnant a year after the procedure, and the numbers rose to 40.1% after two years.
There’s more that’s appealing about UFE besides its ability to keep pregnancy an option, though; it is also minimally invasive and does not require a hospital stay. Compared to the major surgery of hysterectomy, this means that recovery is much easier and much less painful because there is no incision.
If you are experiencing problems becoming pregnant, visit your local physician to discuss the possibility of uterine fibroids. For those diagnosed with uterine fibroids, consider Uterine Fibroid Embolization with MTV IR to take action against your uterine fibroids and increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Guo XC, Segars JH. The impact and management of fibroids for fertility: an evidence-based approach. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2012 Dec;39(4):521-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2012.09.005. PMID: 23182558; PMCID: PMC3608270.
Fibroids and Fertility. (2022). Retrieved 2 July 2022, from https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/fibroids-and-fertility/
Mara, M., Maskova, J., Fucikova, Z., Kuzel, D., Belsan, T., & Sosna, O. (2007). Midterm Clinical and First Reproductive Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Myomectomy. Cardiovascular And Interventional Radiology, 31(1), 73-85. doi: 10.1007/s00270-007-9195-2