It’s a medical fact that most women will have fibroids during their life time. Usually, fibroid development occurs when a woman is in her thirties and forties. In the past, women of this age would have already completed a family. But today, many women have children later in life. It’s common to start a family in your thirties or even forties, rather than in your twenties. This makes understanding the potential relationship between fibroids and infertility very important.
Let’s start with the positive part. Many women will have fibroids that won’t hurt their chances of having children. The fibroids may stay small, or occur in areas that don’t affect the reproductive system. But certain fibroids will have a profound effect on the ability to conceive, stay pregnant and carry a baby to term.
Depending on where they are located, fibroids may prevent sperm and egg from meeting for conception. Fibroids can hamper the ability of an embryo to implant. They often grow in places or to sizes that make it challenging for a pregnancy to continue. Fibroids may even affect the health and welfare of the fetus.
How do fibroids hurt the ability to have a baby?
The answer has a lot to do with where in the uterus the fibroids are located.
- Fibroids can reduce your fertility in the following ways:
- Fibroids that change the shape of your cervix can affect the number of sperm able to enter the uterus.
- Fibroids that block the Fallopian tubes can make the journey of a fertilized egg to implantation difficult or impossible.
- Fibroids which change the shape of your uterus may decrease the number of places an embryo can successfully implant or reduce uterine space needed for embryo development.
- Fibroids that weaken the lining of the uterine cavity or decrease the blood supply to a growing embryo can cause miscarriage.
You have fibroids. You want children. Now what?
- If you are already pregnant, you want to be sure any fibroids present are monitored by your OB/GYN. Sometimes, as the baby grows, so will the fibroids. This can create issues for pregnancy and delivery. It’s important that your pre-natal care includes a sharp medical eye on existing fibroids and their development.
- If you have fibroids and are trying to get pregnant, it’s important to discuss with your doctor whether the fibroids are in places that might prevent you from doing so, or are in places that could cause complications in pregnancy. If so, fibroid treatment is usually recommended.