Are you worried about your fibroids fertility journey? Even with uterine growths, many women can have children, but fibroids hurt fertility. Which is why these non-cancerous tumors of the uterus can make starting a family quite complicated.
The size, location, and number of uterine fibroids you have will be key in your ability to conceive and give birth to a child. Recently in India, one woman had 106 fibroids removed from in and around her uterus. At just 29 years old, these growths clearly impacted her ability to get pregnant. But, even if you have fewer growths, your chances of getting pregnant could be lower. And here’s why.
Why Can Fibroids Fertility Be Challenging?
Your fibroid(s) can prevent the sperm and egg from joining together so you can conceive. The shape of your cervix may also change as fibroids develop, which can keep sperm from entering your uterus.
If fibroids block your fallopian tubes, an embryo may not be able to reach your uterus. Or, the structure of your uterus may change, making it difficult for your egg to implant.
Your fibroids will also change during pregnancy, as your body increases its production of estrogen, the female sex hormone. So, as the fetus grows, so will the fibroid(s). During pregnancy, a large fibroid increases your chances of a miscarriage. Large growths can also change your baby’s position within the uterus, forcing you to deliver via cesarean section.
Lastly, fibroids can weaken your uterine wall, decreasing the amount of nutrients feeding your growing embryo. This also increases your risk of miscarriage.
Raising Awareness of Fibroids Fertility Challenges
Tamara Henry, an associate professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, is trying to raise awareness about Black women’s fibroids fertility journey. Thanks to a special grant, she’s now researching fibroid rates among black women. (We know they have a higher risk for these growths, but don’t know why. We also know that too many Black women, like renowned author Minda Harts, find out about their fibroids at a point where a hysterectomy or partial hysterectomy is necessary, immediately ending their fertility dreams.)
She also plans to spend a lot of time talking about fibroids and fertility. And Henry believes these discussions are just as important as her research. After all, she told the GW Hatchet, “My hope is that beginning this initial discussion, using this exploratory pilot…we will be able to provide Black women with the support that they need regarding their fibroids, but more importantly regarding their fertility.”
Even more so, she wants women to understand the relationship between uterine tumors and fertility so they can choose the right treatment. As Henry believes, “The reality is these fibroids are affecting our fertility, and for the persons who want to have children like me, I just think it’s important and I want to get the word out. If I can do my part with this pilot study and scale up, then I will have made a difference, and that’s what I want to do with this.”
Which Fibroid Treatment Is Best for Women Who Want to Become Pregnant?
If your fibroids are causing severe symptoms, you should seek treatment. The only treatment method with an absolute guarantee of fibroid relief is a hysterectomy. But, since it surgically removes your uterus, it’s not a suitable choice if you want to have a child.
Thankfully, there are excellent options available for women who want to treat their fibroids and preserve their fertility. Their are two main options: myomectomy or uterine fibroid embolization.
A myomectomy is another type of surgery that treats uterine fibroids. The procedure surgically removes one to two fibroids, most often through minimally invasive incisions in your lower abdomen.
Myomectomies are ideal if you have pedunculated fibroids, which hang from a ‘stalk,’ either inside or outside your uterus. Because this type of fibroid has not grown into the uterine tissue, it’s fairly simple to remove without damaging or scarring the uterus.
Some forms of submucosal fibroids may also be removed safely through a hysteroscopic myomectomy. However, it is important to remember that any uterine surgery poses a risk of complications to the uterus, which may lead to an emergency hysterectomy.
Studies show that fertility rates do improve after myomectomy, yet many patients still prefer less invasive treatment options. Typically, that leads to one question: can I become pregnant after uterine fibroid embolization?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
In addition to fibroids that hang inside or outside of the uterus, there are also those that grow within the uterine wall. These fibroids are difficult to surgically remove, as they require a physician to cut the mass of cells from the uterus.
Uterine fibroid embolization presents an alternative to this traditional surgical method. UFE is not a surgery, but a procedure that involves having an interventional radiologist inject an embolic material into the artery that provides a supply of blood to the fibroid, thus enabling it to continue growing. Once this supply is cut off by the embolic fluid, the fibroid should shrink on its own.
There have been reports of many successful pregnancies in patients after UFE. Multiple studies show that fertility rates and miscarriage rates in UFE patients are no different than patients of the same age with fibroids who have had no treatment. That being said, patients may be better off having a myomectomy if they are a good candidate and are willing to undergo surgery.
A Direct Comparison
Although the findings are not clear cut, a few studies have shown that pregnancy complications may be slightly more common after UFE compared with myomectomy. These pregnancy complications can include preterm labor and pregnancy-induced hypertension, also known as pre-eclampsia.
UFE may still be an option in patients who are not good candidates for myomectomy, or those who do not want to have surgery. And, in studies comparing symptom relief from UFE and myomectomy, the outcomes were equal. (In fact, UFE had a slight advantage!)
See a Specialist
In order to determine the best course of treatment for your unique case of fibroids, it is necessary to see a fibroid treatment specialist such as Dr. Hardee or Dr. Fox. Together you will be able to weight the various procedures and select the one that presents the best benefits for you and your fertility.
Please call (713) 575-3686 today to schedule a consultation with the experienced specialists at Houston Fibroids, or go online and request an appointment with our team!
Sources: sciencedaily.com st