Uterine Fibroids and Pregnancy: How are they related?
Understanding Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are a common type of non-cancerous uterine growth. It is also known as leiomyomas and develops in the uterus’s muscular wall. Fibroids vary in size, ranging from small, undetectable nodules to large masses that can affect the shape and size of the uterus.
Approximately 80% of women up to the age of 50 develop uterine fibroids.
Having them doesn’t mean it is impossible to get pregnant, but it can cause complications during pregnancy.
Learning about uterine fibroids can help in better prevention and treatment.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Common uterine fibroids symptoms:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods: Experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, long periods, and large blood clots resulting in anemia or fatigue.
- Pelvic pain or pressure: Pain or pressure in the pelvic region increases during menstruation or sexual intercourse.
- Frequent urination: Large fibroids press against the bladder, increasing the frequency of urination.
- Difficulty with bowel movements: Fibroids pressing against the rectum cause constipation and bowel movement problems.
- Abdominal bloating or enlargement: Sometimes, the abdomen may appear larger or feel bloated or swollen.
- Infertility or recurrent miscarriages: Fibroids can interfere with implantation or embryo development, leading to infertility or an increased risk of miscarriage.
Causes of uterine fibroids
Several factors contributed to the development of fibroids:
- Hormonal factors: Estrogen and progesterone play an essential role in the growth and development of fibroids. During the reproductive years, the hormone level of women is generally high, which promotes the growth of fibroids and shrinks after menopause when the hormone level is low.
- Genetic predisposition: If any female already has fibroids in the family, the risk of developing fibroids becomes higher.
- Hormonal imbalances: Other hormonal imbalances like insulin-like growth (ICG) also contribute to developing fibroids.
- Race and ethnicity: Compared to women of other ethnic backgrounds, fibroids are more common in women of African descent. It occurs at an earlier age and is more severe in these populations.
- Other factors: Other factors such as obesity, certain dietary factors, and environmental influences may contribute to developing fibroids.
What are the effects of uterine fibroids in pregnancy?
Fibroids cause pregnancy complications, which include:
- The baby in the womb cannot flip into the correct fetal position because of a large fibroid.
- There are high chances of a breech birth(when feet and buttocks are in place to come out first instead of the head). In this situation, the baby gets stuck in the birth canal.
- Fibroids increase the chances of premature or C-section delivery.
- High chances of miscarriage.
- There is a high chance of placenta abruption. The placenta detaches from the womb, and essential nutrients and oxygen will not reach the baby.
How are fibroids treated during pregnancy?
The treatment depends on various factors, including the size, location, symptoms of fibroids, and the stage of pregnancy. Here are some common approaches for treatment:
- Monitoring: Healthcare providers should regularly monitor ultrasounds, which provide access to the size and growth of the fibroids and ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
- Pain management: After consulting with the doctor, the patient can take pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, to counter the pain or discomfort caused by fibroids.
- Bed rest: Healthcare providers may recommend bed rest or restrict physical activities to reduce the risk of premature labor.
- Hormonal therapy: Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medication therapy is used for shrinking the fibroids. The treatment reduces estrogen and progesterone levels, which results in the shrinking of fibroids.
- Surgery: Surgery is considered when fibroids significantly impact the pregnancy or pose a risk. Depending on various factors such as the size, location, and symptoms associated with the fibroids and the stage of pregnancy, myomectomy or hysterectomy may be recommended.
Myomectomy is a procedure in which fibroids are removed, the uterus is preserved, and hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus.
Fibroids management during pregnancy varies from person to person, involves close communication and coordination between the patient and doctor, and is based on specific circumstances.
Can we achieve a successful pregnancy with fibroids?
Yes, it is possible to get pregnant with fibroids. Women with fibroids can conceive naturally and have a healthy baby. Fibroid impact on pregnancy varies from person to person and depends on various factors such as fibroid size, location, number, and an individual’s symptoms and overall health.
In many cases, fibroids do not cause any complications during pregnancy and may not require any specific treatment. Regular monitoring through ultrasounds and prenatal visits can help healthcare providers assess the size and growth of the fibroids and ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby. In these situations, the pregnancy can proceed without any issues.
Also Read- Is Uterine Fibroid Dangerous?
Consult Dr. Sandesh Kade for Uterine treatment.
Dr. Sandesh Kade is a recognized gynaecologist, an expert laproscopic surgeon for scarless surgeries, and endometriosis excision specialist in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, with over 22 years of experience. He has performed over 10,000 surgeries and trained over 200 gynecologists.
He is an expertise in fertility-enhancing surgeries, minimally invasive surgery for pelvic floor repair, laparoscopy for large fibroid and multiple fibroids, complex keyhole hysterectomy, moderate to severe endometriosis, and hysteroscopy for septum, polyp, fibroid, and adhesions.
Book your appointment today.