Womens Health

Do Fibroids Affect Pregnancy?


Fibroids occur in 50 to 80 percent of women at some point in their lives. Many women do not even realize that they have fibroids until they have a routine ultrasound in pregnancy. Some fibroids can affect fertility, pregnancy and delivery of the baby. However, in the majority of cases, fibroids do not cause any major complications to the pregnancy or childbirth.

The Symptoms Of Fibroids During Pregnancy

The symptoms of  fibroids can include heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pressure, frequent urination and pain. Feelings of sharp pain and pressure are caused by the nerves being compressed.

Red degeneration is a rare complication of fibroids. This is when a sudden loss of blood supply to the fibroid causes chronic pain and can even trigger labor. However, this is a very rare situation.

Do Fibroids Cause Pregnancy Complications?

Due to the increased hormone levels during pregnancy, fibroids can often grow larger. Some fibroids actually get smaller during pregnancy although the reasons for this are still not fully understood. Very large fibroids in the uterine cavity can lead to a shortage of space for the baby to grow and sometimes this makes it a very difficult environment for an embryo to implant.

If you know that you have fibroids prior to your pregnancy you can ask your medical practitioner for advice. Pregnant women with fibroids will be monitored more closely through ultrasounds.

The common problems of abdominal pain and light vaginal bleeding rarely cause any risks to the baby.

Fibroids And Delivery

There is some evidence that larger fibroids can cause labor to begin two to three weeks earlier than anticipated. This does not pose a risk to the mother or the baby. Occasionally larger fibroids can cause the baby to be in an unusual position at the time of delivery. If the position of the fibroid is obstructing the baby's passage, a cesarean delivery is more likely.

Fibroids and Infertility

Fibroids do not affect the fertility of the majority of women sufferers. Fibroids that grow in the womb cavity tend to cause more problems with infertility. Some fibroids block the openings to the fallopian tubes or make implantation very difficult. In certain situations surgery is used to remove the fibroid, usually via key hole surgery. Generally this alleviates the cause of the infertility.

Treatment Of Fibroids In Pregnancy

Surgery is highly unlikely to be offered during pregnancy. Surgery at this time would be likely to cause heavy bleeding and possible miscarriage. The pain caused by fibroids is usually treated with ice packs, pain medication and bed rest.  Symptoms generally ease after a few days.

In summary, fibroids are very common in pregnant women. They rarely cause complications or any need for invasive treatments. Treatments to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by fibroids are very similar to those suggested for general pregnancy complaints. The majority of fibroids decrease in size or disappear altogether after the baby is born.

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