How to get pregnant when you have fibroids
Fibroids, or uterine fibroids as they are also called, are a known cause of infertility in women. Fortunately, it is still possible to get pregnant even if you have fibroids.
In this article, we explain what fibroids are, who are affected by fibroids and what the symptoms of fibroids are; how fibroids affect your chances of achieving a pregnancy; how fibroids are treated and how to get pregnant even if you have fibroids.
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths or benign tumours. These develop when the muscle cells in the uterus start dividing very rapidly because they have become extremely sensitive to normal estrogen levels.
Just one fibroid can develop, but usually there are more than one. Fibroids also come in different sizes: these growths can be microscopic in size or they can grow so large that they weigh several pounds and fill the entire uterus.
Who are affected by fibroids?
Fibroids are quite common among women, especially older women. Women under the age of 20 rarely have fibroids. However, as women grow older, fibroids become quite common, especially during the 30s and 40s and through menopause.
In fact, as many as 20% of women may have fibroids during their childbearing years, and 50% of women have fibroids by the time they reach age 50. For women who have gone through menopause, fibroids often shrink by themselves, causing no symptoms.
There are also other factors beyond age that can increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids, including family history, ethnic origin, obesity and eating habits. There are detailed below.
Factors that increase the risk of fibroids
* Having a family member with fibroids – if your mother had fibroids, your risk of having fibroids is about three times higher than average.
* Ethnic origin – African women are more likely to develop fibroids.
* Excess weight – women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids and very overweight women have a risk that is two to three times greater than average.
While some women suffer no symptoms from having fibroids, unfortunately, for others, fibroids can cause a great deal physical discomfort. Some of the symptoms of fibroids are listed below.
Common symptoms of fibroids
* Periods that last longer than normal
* Bleeding between periods
* Heavy bleeding during a period, sometimes with blood clots
* Pelvic cramping or pain with periods
* Lower back pain
* Pain during intercourse
* A feeling fullness or pressure in the lower belly
* Enlargement of the lower abdomen
* Needing to urinate often
If you are experiencing heavy bleeding, increased cramping, or bleeding between periods, as well as fullness or heaviness in your lower belly area, don’t delay in contacting a healthcare provider.
How fibroids affect your chances of getting pregnant
Fibroids are a known cause of infertility and miscarriages in women. The reason for this is that the uterus must be free of fibroids in order for an embryo to grow and develop successfully.
A quick explanation of the process will shed light on the impact of fibroids on pregnancy.
After the egg is fertilised by sperm, the embryo (fertilised egg) must travel through the fallopian tube and embed itself in the lining of the uterus. For this embryo to develop, the uterine lining must be thick and vascular to provide the essential nutrients.
This process is hampered when there are fibroids in the uterus, and especially if there are fibroids directly below the uterine lining. These fibroids not only take up precious space in and beneath the cavity of the uterus, but they also limit the blood supply to the foetus.
This can prevent pregnancy and can also cause miscarriages. In fact, these fibroids mimic the function of the ‘loop’, which is used as an intra-uterine contraceptive device.
Fortunately, fibroids can be treated successfully and it is even possible to get pregnant if you have fibroids, thanks to advanced, modern treatments.
Treatment for fibroids
If you suffer from any of the symptoms of fibroids, you will be glad to know that there are many treatment options available.
These are briefly detailed below.
* Hysterectomy, or uterus removal, only recommended for older women who have no plans for a future pregnancy
* Myomectomy, in which surgeons remove the fibroids but not your uterus – the best choice for women who want to retain their fertility
* Laparoscopic surgery during which fibroids are removed through keyhole surgery
* Hysteroscopic surgery performed under a very light anaesthetic
Thanks to rapid medical advances, fibroid removal in South Africa is both safe and even pain-free.
How to get pregnant with fibroids
Not all these treatments are suitable if you are trying to get pregnant. This is because fibroids cause infertility and miscarriages by preventing the embryo (fertilised egg) from implanting in the uterus.
This means that surgery that removes fibroids inside the uterus can improve the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. It is essential that only a competent qualified fertility specialist perform this advanced surgery.
Removing fibroids in other locations of the uterus, however, may not improve your chances of becoming pregnant. In addition, microscopic fibroids directly below the uterine lining can be most easily missed, even at the time of surgery. For this reason, fibroids may also recur following surgery.
This means that it is important to determine for certain whether fibroids are preventing you from getting pregnant, or whether there is another possible cause of infertility.
Fortunately, precisely determining if fibroids are preventing you from getting pregnant is possible thanks to advanced modern technologies such as ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), hysterosonography, hysterosalpingography (HSG), hysteroscopy or laparoscopy.
At Medfem’s accredited and purpose-designed medical facility, our fertility specialists have access to all these technologies to determine for certain if fibroids are preventing you from getting pregnant.
If it has been established that fibroids are indeed the cause of your infertility or miscarriages, it is crucial to choose an accredited fertility clinic that will develop a unique fertility treatment plan for you, based on your personal situation. It would be wise to choose a fertility clinic with qualified, experienced experts with the right facilities, technology and equipment.
At our accredited and purpose-designed medical facility, our Medfem fertility specialists have the expertise and access to advanced equipment to offer you all the fibroid treatment options – including those that will enhance your chances of getting pregnant – so you can choose the option that is right for you.
Simply click here or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244 to book an initial consultation.
During your initial consultation at Medfem Fertility Clinic, you will meet one of our four fertility specialists who will be able to determine if fibroids are preventing you from getting pregnant – or if there is another fertility challenge at play; and will explain the various fibroid treatments and help you select the right treatment to help you get pregnant.