Usually benign and typically harmless, uterine fibroids are tumors that grow on or in your uterus. They start out as just a single muscle cell, which then grows and multiplies into a mass of cells. Eventually, fibroids increase in size, anywhere from the size of a pea to a melon. They also change their shape.
Most appear on the outside wall of your uterus or inside the muscle tissue itself, but in some cases, the fibroid can protrude into the inner cavity of the uterus. Pregnancy is definitely possible if you have fibroids, but some conditions may cause infertility.
Dr. Khashayer Shakiba at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey treats many cases of fibroids here in Hackensack. He uses the most conservative, minimally invasive, advanced techniques available to remove troublesome fibroids and preserve your fertility. If you have fibroids and are hoping to get pregnant, here’s what you need to know.
Fibroids and infertility
Depending on how big your fibroids are and where they’re growing, they may affect your fertility and your pregnancy in the following ways:
- Preventing a meeting of the sperm and the egg
- Preventing implantation of the embryo
- Causing an inability to sustain pregnancy
- Affecting positioning and development of the baby
Dr. Khashayer can shrink or remove your fibroids to give you and your baby the best chance of a successful and full-term pregnancy.
Size and location matter
Fibroids that show up on the outer wall of your uterus typically don’t cause infertility. Those that do hinder conception are generally found inside the uterine cavity or within the muscular wall.
Infertility is a complicated issue, and fibroids are not usually the culprit. In fact, only about 5%-10% of infertile women even have fibroids. But when fibroids do contribute to infertility, it’s often because of their size. Anything over six centimeters may cause problems.
Although most fibroids are found in the upper part of your uterus, they sometimes take root in the lower area, on or around your cervix, which is the opening to your womb. This is also where sperm enters the uterus to fertilize the egg. If your cervical fibroids have changed the shape of your cervix or are blocking it, the sperm may not be able to enter and complete the fertilization process.
Changes to the shape of your uterus
Large and/or multiple fibroids can change the shape and size of your uterus, making it difficult for the embryo to effectively implant itself into the uterine lining. Even if the sperm can fertilize the egg and enter the uterus, if it can’t establish residency, the pregnancy fails.
Blocked fallopian tubes
Just as fibroids can cover your cervix and prevent sperm from entering the uterus, they can also block your fallopian tubes. During conception, fallopian tubes are the meeting place for sperm and eggs, If there’s no access, there’s no meeting, and there’s no pregnancy.
Fibroids and your baby
Depending on how your fibroids behave during pregnancy, they may affect your baby’s growth and development, or even your ability to carry your baby full term. Up to 12% of all women have fibroids during pregnancy, and most of the time there are no complications. But if the fibroids do grow, it usually happens during the first trimester.
When fibroids grow, they require a steady blood supply, which robs your uterine lining — and your growing baby — of much-needed nutrients and oxygen. This can result in miscarriage or pre-term labor.
Larger fibroids can also affect the position of your baby and may necessitate a Cesarean delivery.
If Dr. Khashayar determines your fibroids are hindering your fertility, he can shrink them with a temporary hormone treatment or remove them using minimally invasive surgery. Both of these treatments preserve your ability to get pregnant.
If you’re beyond your childbearing years, and your fibroids are causing chronic pain or other symptoms, you might be a candidate for a hysterectomy to remove the uterus and the fibroids altogether.
To find out more about fibroids and how they affect your fertility, call us at 201-301-2772 to make an appointment, or request one online today.