Do Fibroids Affect Your Fertility?
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are muscular tumors that may develop in the wall of the uterus. They are usually benign, meaning not cancerous. About 80% of women will have had a fibroid by the time they turn 50. They’re common growths that develop in the uterus, and they’re generally painless. But sometimes fibroids can interfere with fertility and make it more difficult to get pregnant.
Approximately 5% – 10% of infertile women have fibroids. Their size and location determines whether fibroids affect fertility. Fibroids may cause infertility by obstructing the fallopian tubes and impairing gamete transport. The critical factor may be distortion of the endometrial cavity, causing abnormal endometrial receptivity, hormonal milieu, and altered endometrial development.
Women with fibroids and their partners should be thoroughly evaluated to find other problems with fertility before fibroids are treated. A fertility specialist can help assess if fibroids might be hampering conception.
How do fibroids cause infertility?
There are several ways uterine fibroids can reduce fertility:
- Changes in the shape of the cervix can affect the number of sperm that can enter the uterus.
- Changes in the shape of the uterus can interfere with the movement of the sperm or embryo.
- Fallopian tubes can be blocked by fibroids.
- They can impact the size of the lining of the uterine cavity.
- Blood flow to the uterine cavity can be affected. This can decrease the ability of an embryo to stick (implant) to the uterine wall or to develop.
Fibroids are found in 2% to 12% of pregnant women, but not all fibroids get larger or cause problems in a pregnancy. If a fibroid grows, it usually does so in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.