Even with fibroids, many women can have children. Still, 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.
Why Can Fibroids Cause Fertility Issues?
Your fibroid(s) can prevent the sperm and egg from joining together so you can conceiver. 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, decrease the amount of nutrients feeding your growing embryo. This also increases your risk of miscarriage.
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 pre-term 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.
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!