Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterine muscular wall and occur in 25-50% of women. Fibroids can develop within the uterine wall, on the surface of the uterus or within the uterine cavity itself. Although fibroids occur frequently, they rarely require treatment. The most common symptoms that occur as a result of fibroids are heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure; however, some women with fibroids have no symptoms. Uterine fibroids can be detected through a pelvic exam and confirmed by a pelvic ultrasound.
Most women with fibroids do not have difficulties with conception or pregnancy. However, there are certain situations when the location of the fibroid can lead to infertility or miscarriage. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids during the course of your evaluation, we will counsel you on the effects of the fibroid(s) on your ability to conceive and/or successfully deliver a baby. There is no definitive answer to the effect of fibroids on conception and pregnancy outcome.
Rarely, a fibroid will block one or both fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from passing into the uterus or the sperm from entering the fallopian tube. Surgical removal of the fibroid may improve the chance of pregnancy. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an alternative treatment to surgical removal in this situation because IVF bypasses the fallopian tube.
A fibroid that grows into the uterine cavity may prevent an embryo from implanting. Surgical removal of fibroids that distort the inside of the uterus may increase your chance of a successful pregnancy.
The fertility specialists at RHS can counsel you on appropriate management of fibroids depending on your individual factors, as well as risks and the potential benefits of surgical removal.
RHS ultrasound image of a uterine fibroid