In many cases, uterine fibroids don’t cause any complications. But on the rare occasion, they do. One way that fibroids can affect a woman’s health is by decreasing her chances of getting pregnant. Fortunately, many options are available to women whose fibroids might be impacting their fertility.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that in one to two percent of infertility cases, fibroids are at fault. There are a few ways this happens.
- Cervix shape: Depending on their location, fibroids can sometimes make it harder for sperm to enter the uterus. Their location can also interfere with the sperm’s movement or embryonic development.
- Fallopian tubes: Fibroids can sometimes block the fallopian tubes, which makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to move to the uterus for implantation.
- Uterine lining: A certain type of fibroids, called submucosal fibroids, grow underneath the uterine lining. This can crowd the uterus and make growth harder for a developing fetus. Fibroids may also impair uterine contractions during labor.
- Uterine blood flow: With uterine fibroids comes a risk of decreased blood flow to the uterus. This makes it harder for an embryo to implant and start growing.
Most women who have uterine fibroids aren’t infertile, and in many cases, fibroids don’t pose a threat to pregnancy. If a provider thinks that fibroids aren’t currently decreasing a woman’s chances of pregnancy, he or she might advise waiting to see if any symptoms arise.
However, if a woman’s fibroids do seem to be causing any of the above issues, surgery may come into play. Doctors usually prefer to save surgery until it’s most necessary, or if a woman has a history of pregnancy loss and fibroids. Surgical removal of fibroids can, in some cases, decrease the risk of miscarriage and improve the likelihood that a woman will conceive.
“Uterine fibroids.” Health.NY.gov. New York State Department of Health, May 2013. Web.
“Fibroids and fertility.” ASRM. American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 2015. Web.
“Infertility.” OBGYN.UCLA.edu. The Regents of the University of California, 2006. Web.
Rebecca Heuer Schnatz. “Uterine Tube (Fallopian Tube) Anatomy.” Medscape. WebMD LLC., Dec 10, 2014. Web.
- William H Parker. “Fibroids, fertility, and pregnancy.” Fibroidsecondopinion. William H Parker, 2011. Web.