Is There a Connection Between Uterine Fibroids and Infertility?

Is There a Connection Between Uterine Fibroids and Infertility main image

If you’ve recently received a uterine fibroid diagnosis, you may be worried that this condition could prevent future pregnancies. It’s important to understand that many women with fibroids successfully conceive and go on to have healthy pregnancies. However, it’s true that uterine fibroids can sometimes affect your fertility. Fortunately, the right treatment can help preserve the health and function of your uterus. Read on to learn more about the link between fibroids and infertility.

Fibroids and Infertility

Uterine fibroids are usually benign growths that develop inside or around the uterus. Fibroids can form along the endometrial lining inside the womb or in the muscles of the uterus. In some cases, fibroids can also grow along the exterior of the uterus. They may even protrude into the abdominal or pelvic cavity. (i) Fibroids can grow independently or in groups and can vary in size or shape. (ii)

Many women with uterine fibroids are able to conceive and carry their pregnancies to term. (i) If you have fibroids, there’s no certainty that you’ll suffer from infertility or pregnancy-related complications, but understand that fibroids do sometimes affect a woman’s fertility.

How Do Fibroids Affect Fertility?

Some fibroids can block your fallopian tubes and prevent fertilization from taking place. Even if conception does occur, submucosal fibroids, those that grow in the empty space of the uterus, may also prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. (iii)

Some fibroids can distort the shape of your uterus. If you become pregnant, the baby may be forced into an abnormal position. This can sometimes trigger placental abruption or preterm labor. (i)

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids and plan to become pregnant in the future, it’s important to discuss your options with your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN). Fibroids don’t necessarily prevent you from experiencing a healthy pregnancy, but you might need to receive treatment before trying to conceive. (iii)

You may also need extra care during and after your pregnancy. Your OB/GYN can let you know what to expect if you do become pregnant after a fibroid diagnosis.

Can Fibroids Affect My Sex Life?

Aside from concerns about family planning, fibroids may affect intercourse. Some women with fibroids experience significant pain in their pelvis or lower abdomen. (i) This pain may be worse during penetration.

Many women with fibroids have active and pleasurable sex lives, but fibroids can sometimes make having sex difficult. (iv) If your fibroid symptoms are affecting your quality of life, treatment can help ease your discomfort.

What Are My Treatment Options?

Many different uterine fibroid treatment options are available. For many years, hysterectomies were the first-line treatment for uterine fibroids, but this is no longer the case.

Hysterectomies are still sometimes used for severe cases of fibroids. They may also be a good option for women who are not interested in becoming pregnant in the future, but fibroid treatment no longer requires patients to give up all hope of future pregnancies. There are now a variety of uterus-preserving treatments. (v)

Myomectomy surgically removes fibroids while preserving healthy uterine tissue. The extent of this procedure can vary depending on the size and location of your fibroids. Some myomectomies involve open abdominal surgery, whereas others are less invasive. (i)

Recovery time and surgical risks vary depending on the scope of the surgery.

Myolysis is a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. During this procedure, your doctor uses an electric current to freeze and destroy fibroid tissue. (i)

The long-term effects of myolysis on fertility haven’t been thoroughly examined. If you’re planning on future pregnancies, you should ask your OB/GYN or interventional radiologist if this procedure could interfere with your ability to conceive.

Endometrial ablation treats fibroids or abnormal bleeding by destroying the uterine lining. This treatment is very effective in resolving bleeding problems but usually causes infertility. (vi)

Although pregnancy after endometrial ablation can occur in rare cases, the risk for pregnancy complications is high. Your doctor may recommend sterilization or long-term birth control to prevent pregnancy after endometrial ablation. (vi)

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is one of the best options for women who want to avoid open surgery and preserve their uterus. UFE is minimally invasive. The procedure shrinks fibroids by blocking blood flow to the fibroids. (vii)

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure Illustration

In most cases, women who undergo UFE can still become pregnant. UFE may increase your risk of certain pregnancy complications, but many women have successful pregnancies after UFE. (vii) If you’re hoping to become pregnant in the future, a vascular specialist can help you review the potential risks associated with this procedure.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Selecting a treatment for fibroids isn’t always easy. There are many factors to consider. If you are considering UFE to treat your fibroids, at Azura Vascular Care, you’ll work with highly trained vascular specialists who can help you determine if UFE is the uterine fibroid treatment that will meet your needs.

All UFE procedures at Azura Vascular Care take place in a safe, comfortable outpatient setting. Patients can receive their imaging tests, consultations, and follow-up care in one convenient location. The providers at Azura Vascular Care offer the support you need to find solutions for uterine fibroids.

ufe understanding uterine fibroid embolization


Sources:
(i) U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Office on Women’s Health. (2018, March 16). Uterine fibroids. Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids.
(ii) Mayo Clinic. (2018, March 6). Uterine fibroids: Symptoms & causes.  Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288.
(iii) UCLA Health. Infertility. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from http://obgyn.ucla.edu/infertility.
(iv) WebMD. (2018, September 9). Painful sex in women. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/female-pain-during-sex#1.
(v) Mayo Clinic. (2018, March 6). Uterine fibroids: Diagnosis & treatment.  Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354294.
(vi) Mayo Clinic. (2018, September 8). Endometrial ablation. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/endometrial-ablation/about/pac-20393932.
(vii) RadiologyInfo. (2018, February 25). Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=ufe.