We hear this question all the time: Can I have a baby with fibroids? We understand: if you have fibroids—non-cancerous tumors that grow in your uterus—you may be worried about your fertility. Will you be able to get pregnant? Or, if you get pregnant, will the fibroids affect your baby’s growth and birth?
It is possible to have a successful pregnancy with fibroids. Unfortunately, though, fibroids can impact your ability to become pregnant or deliver a healthy baby. But that doesn’t mean your dreams of having a family will never come true. Let’s take a closer look.
Getting Pregnant with Fibroids: Will Fibroids Affect My fertility?
Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, the tumors can block sperm from reaching and fertilizing one of your eggs. Fibroids can also make it more difficult for a fertilized embryo to implant in your uterus, especially if they grow on your inner uterine wall or within the cavity.
And, if you do become pregnant, fibroids may impact fetal development if they are located in a spot where your baby should be growing. For these reasons, you may want to treat fibroids before becoming pregnant. But your doctor can better advise you regarding fibroids and your fertility options.
Successful Pregnancy with Fibroids: Can I Still Have a Baby?
Recently, musician Da Brat announced she was expecting her first baby with wife Judy. But she revealed a long path to get there, since she went through IVF and a miscarriage before this pregnancy. Then, before this successful pregnancy, she surgically removed both fibroids and polyps. Afterward, she underwent an embryo transfer and is now pregnant at 48!
While not technically necessary, Da Brat’s decision to remove her fibroids prior to pregnancy is wise. After all, if you get pregnant while you have fibroids, your fetus could be affected, as we already mentioned. Previous data showed that fibroids increase your risk for miscarriage, early labor, placental abruption, cesarean sections and post-delivery bleeding.
But it’s not all bad news! Luckily, a new study suggests a way to carry your baby without impact. In fact, 90% of participants carried their babies to full term!
The study followed 120 women with large fibroids in their first trimester. Then, those fibroids kept growing during the second trimester. And that’s a problem, since about 46% of pregnant women with large fibroids miscarry.
To help these women, researchers divided them into four groups. One group received a cervical procedure and targeted progesterone therapy. Another group received both treatments and a myomectomy. (That’s a surgery to remove individual fibroids.) Then, a third group only received progesterone therapy. And the fourth group of women only received traditional maternal medical care.
At the end of the study, results were promising. The women who had cervical procedures and progesterone treatment reduced their miscarriage rate more than two times over compared to just progesterone treatment. And, compared to no-intervention, miscarriage rates dropped by 11.2%.
Of course, this news is promising for pregnant women with fibroids. But some women may prefer to treat fibroids before getting pregnant. Or, you may need to treat your fibroids in order to successfully conceive. So, if that’s the case for you, keep reading to learn more about the best fibroid treatments for family planning.
What treatments should I choose for a successful pregnancy with fibroids?
Thankfully, you have many treatment options when it comes to fibroid tumors. It’s important to talk to a fibroid specialist about your family goals so you can choose the one that’s best for you.
In our Houston fibroid practice, we offer a treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). It is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical option that shrinks and kills fibroids by cutting off their blood supply. The procedure is performed through a catheter inserted through your arm. Particles are injected to the catheter to block the artery feeding your fibroids. Many women who undergo UFE go on to have healthy pregnancies.
Some women who still want to get pregnant may prefer a myomectomy—the surgical removal of your fibroid. If that’s the treatment option you select, you’ll need to give your uterus three to six months of healing time before trying to get pregnant.
One final word of warning, to help you manage your expectations: if you’ve had six or more fibroids removed surgically, research shows that you have a lower chance of getting pregnant than women with fewer fibroids. It’s also important to note that myomectomy may weaken your uterus, so it may be safer to deliver your baby via C-section following this fibroid treatment option.
While this information may seem frightening, it’s important to remember: pregnancy is possible, with and after fibroids. Stay positive, and be sure to schedule a consultation with our fibroid experts to discuss all your treatment options.
Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine