If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it means you have abnormal growths (made up of muscle cells and fibrous tissues) in your uterus. These fibroids are non-cancerous, and can vary in size and location. And while fibroids in any location have the potential to cause uncomfortable side effects, fibroids in certain locations will affect your ability to conceive more than others.
Fibroids that grow mainly away from the uterine cavity are called subserosal. Fibroids within the muscle wall are called intramural. Fibroids that grow into the uterine cavity are called submucosal. While having fibroids doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, submucosal and intramural fibroids can make it difficult to become pregnant or carry your child to term. Pregnant women usually wait to begin treatment until after they’ve delivered, but if you’re having trouble conceiving, seeking immediate treatment is a good idea.
Obviously, a fibroid that is inside the uterine cavity (submucosal) is most likely to impact conception, but large masses in any location can also cause problems. In fact, a submucosal fibroid can make it 70% harder for a woman to get pregnant! Large fibroids take a toll on fertility in a variety of ways: they can change the shape of your uterus and cervix, or they can block or slow down the movement of a man’s sperm or a fertilized embryo. They can also block your fallopian tubes from releasing eggs, or affect the quality and thickness of your uterine lining.
For all these reasons, women who know they have fibroids should consult with their doctors before trying to get pregnant. Even if immediate treatment is not necessary, knowing the size and location of your fibroids will help you make informed decisions throughout your conception and pregnancy journey. It’s also important to let your fibroid specialist know about future family planning, as the course of treatment he or she recommends may differ based on your short and long term pregnancy goals.