Uterine fibroids and infertility have been linked in several medical studies, including an extensive 2009 study examining rates of infertility in women with fibroids and controlling for other factors like age and genetic conditions. The 2009 study concluded that fibroids and infertility are definitely associated, especially in the case of submucous fibroids, growths located just under the lining of the uterus. It is important to be aware that the type, size, and location of a fibroid are all important factors in determining whether the fibroid will cause fertility issues.
Fibroids are benign tumors that form in and around the uterus. There are a number of different types, classified by where they form. Many women have fibroids and experience no medical problems. Some women develop painful periods, cramping, and other problems because of the growths. Studies have shown that women undergoing treatment for fibroids are more likely to complain of fertility problems and have an increased history of miscarriage, complications during pregnancy, and problems with labor and delivery. The link between fibroids and infertility appears to persist even after studies control for other factors known to impact fertility.
Fibroids can impact fertility in a number of different ways. The growths may compress the fallopian tube, making it impossible to release an egg. They can also change the structure of the uterus and cause problems with implantation of an embryo. Fibroids may cut off blood supply, making it difficult for an embryo to develop, and they can also block the cervix, forcing a Cesarean delivery of a pregnancy. Fibroids are also linked with increased complications during pregnancy.
Being aware of the link between fibroids and infertility can help women make choices about treatment of fibroids and infertility problems. Removing fibroids can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, and women with repeat miscarriages and other fertility issues may want to consider being evaluated for fibroids. The growths should also be monitored during pregnancy, as the associated rise in estrogen levels can cause fibroids to grow more rapidly.
Having fibroids does not necessarily mean that a woman will have fertility problems or will experience complications and problems with a pregnancy. However, they can be a cause for concern, and a doctor may recommend monitoring a patient closely in the interests of identifying any problems in the early stages. Evaluation to learn more about the location, type, and size of the growths can help patient and doctor decide if additional steps need to be taken. Many women with fibroids are able to conceive without assistance and carry a pregnancy successfully to term, in addition to delivering vaginally.