Infertility Due to Fibroids
Fibroids are a very common problem, and 75% of women who have them live with them without any problems. They don’t ever have them removed and they don’t notice them at all. For the other 25% of women who have fibroids, however, they can pose a fertility risk and can raise other important issues for women.
Fibroids are generally non-cancerous tumors that develop and grow in the pelvic area. They are most likely to develop in women between the ages of 30 and 40, during the time when many women want to conceive. Traditionally, these fibroids were dealt with through surgery and hysterectomy. However, a hysterectomy removes the uterus and makes it impossible to conceive. Therefore, today, doctors have devised many other ways to deal with fibroids to avoid infertility issues.
Who Is Most at Risk for Fibroids?
There are a number of ways to try to prevent having fibroids. If you’ve had one or more pregnancies that extended past the fifth month, then you have less risk. If you’ve been on birth control pills for an extended period of time, you generally have less risk; however, researchers suspect that girls who use the pill between the ages of 13 and 16 actually have an increased risk. While it is not known why, African American women tend to have a higher risk of fibroids than do other groups. Red meat increases your risk. While smoking decreases the risks, this is certainly not a reason to begin or continue to smoke!
Fibroids and Infertility
Fibroids can cause infertility in a variety of ways. The fibroid may be positioned in a way that it pushes on the fallopian tubes, creating a block that keeps the sperm from reaching the egg or that doesn’t allow the egg to be released. Sometimes, fibroids keep the egg from implanting correctly or keep the embryo from growing and developing properly. Many of these difficulties can also create miscarriages in women with fibroids.
There are easy tests that can be done by your doctor to see if you have fibroids, including ultrasound and other methods, and to determine if the fibroids are causing your infertility. Most of the time, fibroids do not need treatment and do not cause fertility issues. However, if they are quite large, or are preventing you from conceiving you do have options. Sometimes, surgery can be performed to remove the fibroids while keeping the uterus in tact. There are two main surgeries that are done. During an abdominal myomectomy an incision is made in the abdomen and the fibroids are removed. Between 11 and 26% of women who have this procedure done will need a second surgery. During the second procedure, a hysteroscopic myomectomy, a fiberoptic telescope is used through the vagina and cervix to remove the fibroids in the uterus. Both of these procedures carry some risk for uterine rupture during pregnancy and labor. Doctors will often recommend that women who have had these procedures undergo a Caesarean section for delivery.
At the present time, these procedures are the best available to take care of fibroids that develop during the childbearing years. Doctors are always working on less invasive measures and on drugs that will help with fibroids. If you are having fertility issues, it is certainly worth your while to see if you have fibroids and to evaluate if you can have them removed.