Wondering if you can get pregnant with fibroids? The answer will vary from person to person. Many women with fibroids can become pregnant naturally without the need for infertility treatment and have a successful pregnancy with fibroids. For others, conceiving with uterine fibroids might be difficult depending on where and how the fibroids are growing.
Fibroids can impact your fertility and lead to pregnancy complications. Schedule an initial consultation with a fibroid specialist if you are concerned about how fibroids can affect your pregnancy. A fibroid specialist can help you determine if fibroid treatment is right for you before getting pregnant.
Fibroids are benign, non-cancerous tumors that grow in your uterus. They can be larger than a grapefruit or as small as a pea. They can grow inside your uterine cavity, outside your uterine wall, or within your uterine wall. Some women can even have multiple fibroids of various sizes. By the age of 35, an estimated 60 percent of women have fibroids, and up to 80 percent will develop them by age 50.
Women may have many questions about if they can get pregnant with fibroids because they can cause complications before, during, and after pregnancy.
Complications of Getting Pregnant With Fibroids
Is pregnancy with fibroids high risk? Many women can have a successful pregnancy with fibroids without any complications. Some women, however, experience challenges in getting pregnant with fibroids.
For instance, if your fibroids grow on the inner wall of your uterus or in your uterine cavity, they could affect the implantation and growth of the embryo, leading to infertility or miscarriage.
Also, if your fibroids are big enough to distort the structure of your uterus, they can lead to reduced fertility success regardless of whether they’re growing in your uterine wall or into the uterine cavity. While specialists initially thought fibroids that grew out of the uterus didn’t affect fertility, recent research shows these fibroids could reduce IVF success. 2
However, if you received a uterine fibroid diagnosis and have been dealing with infertility, it is possible to still become pregnant and have a successful pregnancy with fibroids whether or not you have the fibroids removed surgically. Having treatment doesn’t guarantee you’ll experience improved fertility or an easier time getting pregnant with fibroids, but it’s an option you may want to discuss with your doctor. They can tell you if your fibroids are causing your infertility and the best course of action.
While fibroids can cause infertility in some women, doctors are more likely to identify more prevalent causes of infertility. If you’re having issues with fertility or maintaining a pregnancy, your doctor might check for other potential causes before deciding the culprit is your fibroids.
Uterine fibroids can reduce fertility or getting pregnant in various ways. This can include:
- Changes to the cervix shape that impacts how many sperm enter the uterus.
- Uterus shape changes can interfere with the sperm’s or embryo’s movement.
- Affects the size of the uterine cavity’s lining.
- Blocks the fallopian tubes.
- Affects the flow of blood to the uterine cavity, thus decreasing the embryo’s ability to implant in the uterine wall or develop.
If you’re wondering if you can be successful in getting pregnant with fibroids, you should consult with a fibroid specialist to determine the location and size of your fibroids. Ask them if the fibroids could cause challenges with conceiving or your ability to carry a pregnancy to term. You’ll also want to find out if treating the fibroids will improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
Fibroid Symptoms During Pregnancy
Often, women learn they have uterine fibroids when they go to their first ultrasound appointment to monitor their baby’s development. Many women who experience fibroid symptoms think they are normal and disregard them. When symptoms become more severe, most pregnant women notice a change and seek professional help.
Typical symptoms of fibroids during pregnancy can include:
- Severe cramps, similar to menstrual cramps.
- Widespread pain and tension in the stomach.
- Digestion problems, such as constipation.
- Increased need to urinate, as the fibroids exert pressure on the bladder.
Over 30 percent of women have fibroid symptoms during pregnancy consisting of pain and bleeding. In one study, nearly 60 percent of women had pain caused by fibroids during their first trimester, while just over 10 percent experienced only bleeding.
Calcification in Pregnancy
Fibroids may increase in size during your pregnancy because of the higher hormone levels. When fibroids become too large, they can outgrow their blood supply. This may cause them to shrink and some of the cells to die off.
Calcification may occur on the remaining cells of the fibroid. Calcified fibroids may cause even more symptoms than other types of fibroids, such as severe abdominal pain and abnormal bleeding. Bleeding and pain can cause you to worry that you’re suffering from a miscarriage.
Will My Baby Be in Danger If I Have Fibroids?
If you have fibroids, you’re probably asking questions such as, “Can I carry a baby with fibroids?” and “Will my baby be okay if I have fibroids?” Keep in mind that most affected women can deliver a healthy baby. However, you’ll want to be aware of these pregnancy complications.
Even though they’re rare, these are the pregnancy risks of having fibroids:
1. Growth Problems and Premature Delivery
If you have multiple large fibroids, your uterus may fail to distend appropriately leading to growth problems with the fetus. Your water can also break early, putting you into premature labor. If your placenta implants on a fibroid, your pregnancy might lack nutrition and the ideal blood supply needed for your baby to grow properly. In serious cases, fibroids can lead to extremely preterm births, particularly if your fibroids become bigger rapidly after your pregnancy begins. However, many women with fibroids have healthy, growing babies and deliver at term with a natural delivery with fibroids.
Your doctor will measure your belly during your pregnancy to ensure your baby grows as it should. If your fibroids are large, they could alter the measurements, making them less accurate so that you may require more frequent ultrasounds.
In some cases, fibroids can misshape your uterine contour to the point where the baby can’t get in position for a vaginal delivery. In these situations, doctors recommend a cesarean delivery (C-section) rather than attempting to turn the baby to have a natural delivery with fibroids.
In other cases, the baby is head down, but the large fibroids block the cervix or lower uterine segment, so the baby’s head can’t dilate the cervix properly. This also requires a C-section.
Even if the fibroids appeared to be a problem earlier in your pregnancy, as your uterus expands and the fibroids fluctuate in size, they might become less of a concern as your doctor watches your pregnancy.
If your doctor suggests a C-section early in your pregnancy, you may want to ask them to monitor the fibroid(s) during the third trimester of your pregnancy so they can determine if a C-section is still recommended or if you can have a natural delivery with fibroids. Your situation could change, and you may no longer require surgery but have a natural delivery with fibroids.
What Are the Effects and Risks of Fibroids on Pregnancy?
Fibroids during pregnancy could pose some risks during all three trimesters, during delivery and postpartum.
Vaginal Delivery with Fibroids
Some women may find it more difficult to have a vaginal birth if they have fibroids. Fibroids can block the birth canal or lead to the baby being in a breech position. They can also prevent the necessary contractions from pushing the baby through the birth canal and natural delivery with fibroids.
C-section Birth with Fibroids
A C-section is a surgical procedure that opens up the mother’s abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby. Since fibroids make a vaginal delivery more challenging, women with fibroids are six times more likely to have cesarean section deliveries.
Your doctor may determine that you require a C-section during labor or delivery. This can be due to a rapid change if your, or your baby’s, health deteriorates where vaginal birth is too dangerous for you.
With fibroids, you’re at a higher risk for excessive bleeding regardless of whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section. Typically, this occurs when your placenta is attached to your uterus abnormally (placenta increta or acreta). You’re more likely to experience abnormal placentation if you’ve had a prior myomectomy or cesarean birth.3
Your doctor might request you have an IV in place and ensure there’s blood available exclusively for you during delivery, depending on your fibroid situation. Large obstetric units are usually well-equipped with postpartum hemorrhage protocols to ensure that emergencies are quickly handled.
Problems During Your First Trimester
Once you’ve answered, “Can you get pregnant with fibroids?” Your next concern is what happens after you become pregnant. You may be concerned whether you can have a successful pregnancy with fibroids. In most cases, the fibroids don’t grow during pregnancy, but if your fibroid does grow, it will likely do so during your first three months. This is because fibroids probably require estrogen to grow. When you’re pregnant, your body makes more estrogen.
The main issues that could occur after getting pregnant with fibroids are:
1. Pain and Bleeding
A study with over 4,500 women participants showed 11 percent of the women with fibroids experienced bleeding, and 59 percent only experienced pain. But, 30 percent experienced both during their first three months of pregnancy.
Women with fibroids have a higher risk for miscarriage during early pregnancy than those without fibroids (14 percent vs. 7.6 percent). Your risk could go even higher if you have multiple fibroids.
Second and Third Trimesters
Getting pregnant with fibroids is risky because the uterus will already have to expand to make room for the baby. Your excessively enlarged uterus may cause problems during pregnancy, including:
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of fibroids, particularly when they’re big. In some cases, fibroids twist, causing discomfort and cramping. In other cases, they outgrow their blood supply, turn red and die. Known as “red degeneration,” this process can lead to severe stomach pain and sometimes even miscarriage. To relieve the pain, you can try taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) but refrain from taking ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) during early pregnancy as well as during your third trimester since it could cause miscarriage.
2. Placental Abruption
When pregnant, you have a greater risk of placental abruption if you have fibroids. Placental abruption is where your placenta tears away from your uterus wall before you deliver your baby. It’s extremely serious since you could experience heavy bleeding, which could put you in shock, and your baby won’t get sufficient oxygen.
3. Placenta Previa
Placenta previa is when your placenta attaches over your cervix in your lower part of your uterus instead of the upper part. In some cases, it could be near your cervix opening which you call a low-lying placenta. Placenta previa occurs in one of 200 deliveries.
With placenta previa, you may experience painless, sometimes profuse bleeding late in your pregnancy. Your doctor can perform ultrasonography to confirm the diagnosis. You may only need modified activity, but if you or your fetus develop problems or the bleeding continues, you may require a cesarean delivery.
Up to 15 percent of women who are pregnant experience placenta previa during their second trimester. Placenta previa resolves on its own in over 90 percent of women before they give birth. If it doesn’t resolve on its own, the placenta can detach from your uterus and deprive your baby of blood supply.
You have a higher chance of developing placenta previa if you:
- Have been pregnant more than once
- Have had a C-section
- Have fibroids or another structural abnormality of your uterus
- Are pregnant with multiples
- Are older
4. Preterm Delivery
Giving birth with fibroids puts you at a higher risk of preterm delivery, which means you deliver your baby before your 37th week of pregnancy.
Fibroids could keep your uterus from contracting. They could also cause birth canal blockage, which slows down the progress of your labor.
Another potential problem is having a breech birth. During a normal delivery, your baby would come from the birth canal head first. Babies come out feet- or buttocks-first during a breech birth.
Can You Get Pregnant after Fibroid Removal?
It can be easier to get pregnant after fibroid removal because you feel better and are healthier. You’re not dealing with pain, heavy bleeding, or irregular periods, making it difficult to plan a pregnancy. Since fibroids may make conception difficult, removing them can improve your fertility.
Hysterectomy is Not Your Only Choice
It can be comforting to know that a hysterectomy isn’t your only choice for treating fibroids if you still want to add to your family. Since a hysterectomy removes the uterus, it eliminates your chance of conceiving or carrying a baby. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that stops the fibroids’ blood flow, so they shrink and die. This non-surgical treatment leaves your uterus intact, allowing you to get pregnant and have a normal delivery.
Schedule Your UFE and Speak to a Specialist
It’s only natural that you would be concerned about how fibroids can affect your ability to conceive and have a safe pregnancy and delivery. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids, you can discuss treatment with a fibroid specialist at USA Fibroid Centers. They will help you develop the right treatment plan, whether you are pregnant or planning to have a baby.
Schedule a consultation to learn more about UFE and how it can help you deliver a happy and healthy baby. You can also call 855.615.2555 to visit one of our facilities.