By Dr. Neha Poddar, Gynaecology
Uterine fibroids are quite common. Nearly 20-80% of all women develop these benign growths in the womb or uterus by age 50. About 30% of women aged between 25 years and 44 years exhibit some symptoms of fibroids. This indicates that fibroids are typically common during the childbearing years.
How common is the Condition?
Although most women do not experience any side effects from uterine fibroids during pregnancy, a study conducted in 2010 suggested that these non-cancerous growths might affect your pregnancy and fertility chances. Around 10-30% of pregnant women with fibroids develop complications. Those with fibroids larger than 5cm often experience pain during the last two trimesters.
Effects of Fibroids during Pregnancy -
Uterine fibroids are likely to put you at risk of other complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. These may include –
• Restriction of Foetal Growth – Large fibroids can prevent the foetus from developing fully due to insufficient space in the womb
• Placental Abruption – This happens when a fibroid blocks the placenta and forces it to break away from the uterine walls, reducing vital nutrients and oxygen
• Pre-term Delivery – Fibroid pain can cause uterine contractions, prompting an early delivery
• Caesarean Delivery – Women with uterine fibroids are six times more likely to have a C-section delivery than those who live without fibroids
• Breech Position – Due to the abnormal shape of the cavity, the foetus may be unable to align for a normal vaginal delivery
• Miscarriage – Women with fibroids are twice as much likely to have a miscarriage
Effects of Fibroids on Fertility
Many women who develop uterine fibroids are able to achieve pregnancy naturally. Medical intervention may not be required for conception. However, in some cases, they may have an impact on your fertility. For instance – submucosal fibroids that grow and bulge into the uterine cavity might level up your chances of infertility or miscarriage.
Is there a treatment?
If you are trying to conceive with fibroids, visit a doctor and discuss the position or size of any fibroids you have. Enquire if they could cause problems with your attempts to get pregnant or your ability to carry a pregnancy successfully. Your doctor can suggest appropriate treatment or remedies to help improve your chances of a successful pregnancy.
The most common methods are –
• Myomectomy – This is done to remove the fibroids surgically. You will have to wait for about 3 months after the procedure before engaging in intercourse.
• Myolysis – The procedure uses a laser, an electric current or radiofrequency energy beam to contract the blood vessels that feed the uterine fibroids.
• Hormonal pills
• Gn-RH Agonists
• Intrauterine Device
During pregnancy, your doctor will most likely keep the treatment limited to avoid any risk to the foetus. Hydration, mild pain relievers and bed rest can be recommended to help would-be mothers manage fibroid symptoms.
Last but not least, following a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight can minimize your possibility of contracting high-risk pregnancies and fertility issues.