Topics covered in this blog:
- Fibroids During The First Trimester
- Fibroids During the Second and Third Trimester
- Can Fibroids Cause Miscarriage in the Second Trimester?
- Fibroids and Postpartum
- Can Fibroids Prevent Conception?
- Submucosal Fibroids
- Treating Fibroids Before Pregnancy
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization
- Schedule Fibroid Treatment with USA Fibroid Centers
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, you’re likely concerned about related pregnancy complications, and evidence suggests that you may have reason to be. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that commonly develop in the uterus during the childbearing years, with up to 80% of women affected by age 50. Common symptoms include heavy periods, pelvic pain or pressure, low energy, pain during sex, and frequent urination. At times, fibroid symptoms can be debilitating.
While there are a variety of effective fibroid treatments available, they are generally reserved for before or after pregnancy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take measures during pregnancy to help keep you and your baby healthy. At USA Fibroid Centers, we believe in the power of information when it comes to dealing with personal health issues. Here’s everything you need to know about what to expect with uterine fibroids and pregnancy.
The first trimester is the most common time for fibroid growth. About one-third of fibroids in pregnant women grow during these initial 12 weeks. Your obstetrician may use ultrasound to monitor the size of the fibroids and any growth.
Complications of uterine fibroids during pregnancy in the first trimester may include:
Pain: Throughout pregnancy, pain is the most common issue caused by fibroids, and may occur in the pelvis, abdomen, lower back, hip, or down the leg. First trimester cramps can be mistaken for a miscarriage, especially if accompanied by heavy bleeding.
Vaginal Bleeding: Although spotting during early pregnancy is common and often harmless, any bleeding can be alarming. If you have fibroids and experience any bleeding, we recommend contacting your doctor immediately.
Do Fibroids Grow with Pregnancy?
Some women experience the growth of uterine fibroids during pregnancy while others may not see any change in their size. Fibroids need estrogen to help them grow. During pregnancy, your body increases its production of estrogen, which is why some women experience faster growth of fibroids at this time.
Fibroids can vary in size, starting less than one centimeter. A large fibroid can be 10 centimeters or more, from the size of a grapefruit to a watermelon. As the fibroid gets bigger, it can have a stronger impact on a pregnancy.
As your baby grows and the uterus expands, you may be surprised to learn that after the first trimester, there is very little actual fibroid growth. With that said, you may still face complications, including:
Fibroid Pain During Pregnancy: Pain is the most common symptom reported during the second and third trimesters, and it is often experienced with large fibroids that are over five centimeters. Although rare, severe pain can also occur in cases of red degeneration during pregnancy. This process typically involves the torsion of a thyroid stalk (pedunculated fibroid). Symptoms include acute pain, fever, and abdominal tenderness.
This condition occurs when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before childbirth –– putting both the mother and baby at risk. Data suggests that women with fibroids are three times more likely to experience placental abruption than women without fibroids. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, back pain, uterine tenderness, and contractions. If you are experiencing any of these, you should seek emergency care.
Preterm Labor: Any birth contractions that begin before 37 weeks gestation are considered preterm labor. Symptoms can include changes in vaginal discharge, pelvic pressure, back pain, abdominal cramps, and contractions. In addition, your water can break. Your doctor may try to stop or slow down preterm labor with the use of medication. Although some preterm babies go on to have healthy lives, others experience lifelong consequences.
Fetal Growth Restriction: This refers to a fetus who doesn’t grow at a normal rate within the womb. Fibroids can affect baby growth if the fibroids are very large. When born, the baby may have a low birth weight, low Apgar scores, meconium aspiration, decreased oxygen levels, low blood sugar, or a variety of other health challenges. Your doctor will take fundal measurements at each prenatal visit to help detect any growth abnormalities.
Some studies indicate an increased likelihood of delivering a baby by Cesarean section if the woman has uterine fibroids during pregnancy. It is believed that fibroids can keep the uterus from being able to contract. If they grow large enough, they can also block the birth canal, making vaginal labor more difficult.
Another concern with uterine fibroids and pregnancy is the baby could be in a breech position. If the fibroids continue to grow and limit the space for the baby in the uterus, it can prevent the baby from turning into the correct position. If the baby’s buttocks or feet are positioned to come out of the vagina first, it is termed a breech delivery. Most healthcare providers will likely recommend a C-section.
The risk for miscarriage nearly doubles in the early part of pregnancy for women with fibroids. If the growths get large or you have numerous fibroids, your risk may be even higher. While miscarriage is a risk at any point, it carries the highest risk in the first trimester if the mother has fibroids
Fibroids can still increase the risk of complications during labor and after delivery.
Fibroids During Labor: Studies indicate that the odds of a woman with fibroids having a C-section, the surgical removal of a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus, are up to six times greater than for a woman without fibroids. Uterine fibroids can prevent contractions, block the birth canal, or lead to a breech position.
Fibroids After Delivery: Postpartum hemorrhage, which is when there is more bleeding than usual after delivery, is another potential complication that women with fibroids are significantly more likely to experience.
Fibroids Beyond Delivery: You may wonder what happens to symptomatic fibroids after your baby is born. The good news is that fibroids often shrink at this point; though unfortunately for some, this isn’t always the case. If you continue to suffer from fibroid symptoms after giving birth, it’s important to alert a fibroid specialist.
If you plan to have a baby in the near future, and you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you may wonder if this condition will hurt your chances of conceiving.
We want you to know that while it is possible to get pregnant with fibroids, they can also have a negative impact on fertility for some women.
Submucosal fibroids, fibroids that grow within the endometrium, may increase the risk for infertility. Since they can develop individually or in clusters, varying in size and location, submucosal fibroids can pose a higher risk of miscarriage and cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
USA Fibroid Centers offers a nonsurgical procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which can stop the growth of fibroids. Since UFE is an outpatient procedure with little recovery time, you may want to consider having it before attempting to get pregnant. A 2017 study showed that 41% of women who received treatment for their fibroids with UFE were able to conceive within one year. The procedure was also 79% effective at relieving symptoms of fibroids, which can include the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
With your fibroid symptoms under control, you can focus on trying to conceive.
Uterine fibroids are most common during the reproductive years, so it comes as no surprise to us that many of our patients are concerned about preserving fertility. Some avoid treatment altogether because they’ve been told a hysterectomy, the complete surgical removal of the uterus, is their only option. We want you to know that this isn’t true.
Because of the complications that can happen with uterine fibroids during pregnancy, it’s better to treat them before conceiving. It can also help you get pregnant more quickly since fibroids can impact conception. You’ll want to explore your options for treatment if you hope to have a family in the future. Not all treatments give you the same chance to conceive.
Besides a hysterectomy, you may consider a myomectomy, which preserves the uterus. This procedure surgically removes the fibroids with the use of general anesthesia in a hospital setting. A myomectomy requires incisions, however, a hysteroscope myomectomy simply uses a scope inserted into the vagina. There is an increased risk of scarring and infection, which can cause issues with fertility. If fibroids return after a myomectomy, the doctor may recommend a hysterectomy.
At USA Fibroid Centers, our experts offer an effective, non-surgical treatment that can preserve your uterus and retain your fertility. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that involves less risk and a significantly shorter recovery time than fibroid surgery.
If you suffer from symptomatic fibroids and have not been able to conceive, we suggest inquiring whether you are a good candidate for UFE. Even if you do not want to undergo uterine fibroid treatment during pregnancy, conceiving may become easier if you treat your fibroids prior to conception.
Treating fibroids before pregnancy is the safer, better alternative. Monitor any symptoms of uterine fibroids you may experience and seek medical advice as soon as possible. If you wait to seek treatment for fibroids until after you discover that you’re pregnant, your treatment options will be limited until the baby is born. Due to the risk for the baby, doctors will generally only prescribe bed rest, mild pain relievers, and hydration to deal with the symptoms.
If you have any questions about uterine fibroids and pregnancy, discuss them with your doctor or one of our fibroid specialists. While pregnancy is a joyous time for many mothers-to-be, it is also critical to understand the possible increased risks to you and your baby when fibroids are involved. Simply being aware of potential signs of pregnancy complications can help you know when to seek medical attention. If you have any related concerns at all, do not hesitate to contact your doctor immediately.
If you are experiencing painful symptoms of fibroids, we encourage you to call us at 855.615.2555 or go online to schedule a consultation with one of our leading experts.
Treatment with USA Fibroid Centers can help you maintain your fertility and relieve symptoms of fibroids. After treatment with Uterine Fibroid Embolization, you can quickly get back to enjoying life!
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UT Southwestern Medical Center. (March 2020). Can uterine fibroids harm my pregnancy?