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How Uterine Fibroids Affect Fertility in Women

Uterine Fibroids and Fertility
Uterine fibroids are a common condition that many women face at least once in their life. These tumours can cause severe pain and bleeding in most cases, but the affect on a woman’s fertility can be devastating for some. While the presence of uterine fibroids doesn’t necessarily cause infertility, as some women with uterine fibroids have full-term healthy pregnancies, the location of the fibroids within the uterus can make a difference. As the correlation of uterine fibroids and fertility can be complex, let’s discuss what causes uterine fibroids and the possible issues associated with these tumours.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are a benign growth of cells located within the uterus. While the cause of the development of these fibroids is unknown, many medical experts regard them as a result of hormones or genetics. Some people will also refer to them as tumours but rarely are they related to any form of cancer. Although these fibroids can be found throughout, or attached to, the uterus, they can appear in diverse sizes. These factors can determine the gravity of any uterine fibroid symptoms, which can include pain, irregular periods, and heavy bleeding. The location establishes the type and severity. Also Read: Lifestyle Choices That Pose Fertility Risks for Men and Women

The Types of Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are considered to be divided into three classifications. The most common type is intramural fibroids. These fibroids are found within the uterus muscle walls in three different places: the front (anterior), the back (posterior), and the upper portion (fundal). Some can go undetected with no symptoms, while larger ones can cause issues with the bladder and bowels. A more noticeable sign can be a bulging belly. Intramural fibroids may cause infertility. Submucosal fibroids are thought to be less common but do cause significant issues with abnormal uterine bleeding. These can lead to anemia, severe pain, blood clots, and fatigue. The positioning of the submucosal fibroids within the uterus inner lining can have a negative affect on fertility as well. With this location, the rate of a successful implantation can be lowered by 70%. If submucosal fibroids do not prevent a pregnancy, the concern turns to a high probability of a miscarriage. Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside of the uterus, causing issues with organs nearby such as the bladder. These fibroids usually do not cause alarm in terms of the uterus, but symptoms may include cramping, bloating, urinary problems, and painful sex.

How Do Fibroids Cause Infertility in Women?

Understanding what uterine fibroids are and the distinct locations where found will help to see the correlation between fibroids and infertility. For instance, intramural and submucosal fibroids can physically alter the cervix, fallopian tubes, and the uterus itself. Within the fallopian tubes, fibroids can block the pathway for the fertilized egg to get to the uterus. The fibroids can also create physical changes within the cervix that can lower the sperm count that enters the uterus. If the shape of the uterus changes, the sperm may not be able to travel as it should. Essential blood flow to and throughout the uterus can be reduced or completely blocked by the fibroids presence.

Fibroids and IVF Success

These physical changes of the uterus by fibroids can prevent success of in vitro fertilization (IVF), as well. As IVF pertains to transferring the fertilized eggs into the uterus lining, the uterus needs to be in good health. It’s important to note that the existence of fibroids doesn’t mean fertilization cannot take place. Submucosal fibroids can cause more difficulties as intramural and subserosal fibroid patients have been shown to have higher pregnancy rates. Also Read: Failed IVF: Steps to Take in Your Next Attempt

How Fibroids Affect Pregnancy

Fibroids can develop or may pre-exist with a pregnancy. These uterine fibroids require monitoring throughout the pregnancy as they may continue to grow, especially in the critical first 12 weeks. A developing fibroid causes concern for the possibility of miscarriage or an early birth. Some cases have seen these growths outgrow needed blood supply. Hospitalization may be required due to the severe pain. Sharing the womb with fibroids can cause the baby to change position. The medical plan during pregnancy focuses on this issue with continuous monitoring. Complications can include fetal growth restriction, placental abruption, a breech position, preterm or caesarean delivery, and even a miscarriage.

Treatment for Uterine Fibroids

Treatment for uterine fibroids depends highly on the type, size, location, and if any symptoms exist. For severe symptoms, some fibroids may require treatment, if not removal. Endometrial ablation stops severe bleeding caused by fibroids. This procedure removes the lining of the uterus with the use of heat energy. Unfortunately, this prevents future pregnancies. A uterine artery embolization targets the blood flow that feeds the fibroids with use of the injection of tiny particles. This can destroy the fibroids while lowering the blood supply to the ovaries, decreasing fertility probability. Myomectomy refers to removing the fibroids surgically, which can damage reproductive organs. This procedure may be done as laparoscopic, hysteroscopic, or abdominal method. A hysterectomy surgical procedure stops all pregnancy plans as the entire uterus is removed. Many women do choose to use their own eggs with a surrogate to carry the baby full-term.

Why Consider Freezing Eggs Before Treatment?

For some women, the freezing of their eggs may be the only chance to successfully become a mother, through the use of a surrogate. As fibroid treatments can damage the eggs, many choose to freeze the eggs before taking any form of treatment. If uterine fibroids are extremely large, they may prevent the preservation of the eggs beforehand as the ovaries cannot be handled.

Fertility Assessment Solutions at ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo

ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo provides dedicated fertility care, treatment, and counselling programs led by some of the world’s top specialists. At our state-of-the-art fertility clinic in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, our team uses evidence-based medical science to adapt your needs for the best possible fertility success rate. Speak to one of our compassionate team members at (519) 650-0011 or visit our website today.


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