July is Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month, and heaven only knows we need to raise awareness about fibroids. Women need to understand how uterine fibroids are diagnosed and treated. Those wanting to get pregnant also need information on how fibroids might impact conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. We received a question on a Creating a Family Radio Show/Podcast on uterine fibroids from a woman wondering if she should try to get pregnant if she had fibroids? She was worried about complications for herself or the baby in being pregnant with fibroids. Was the risk too much?
Fibroids are small muscular tumors that usually grow in the walls of the uterus. The uterus is an amazing organ that can grow to many times its original size and is strong enough to squeeze an 8-pound human out of a relatively small canal. Given the nature of this muscle, it is prone to developing fibroids usually within the muscle tissue. About 50% percent of women develop fibroids in their uterus by the time they reach 50 years old, with African American women being at the highest risk.
The vast majority of fibroids are benign (non-cancerous), but depending on their size and location can cause problems with getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term. Most women with fibroids have no problem at all, but there are some potential problems of which you should be aware.
Fibroid Facts for Women Who Want to Get Pregnant
Women with uterine fibroids are at a higher risk of experiencing the following complications.
1. Cesarean section.
Fibroids increase the risk that a woman will need a c-section.
2. Baby presenting in a breech position.
Uterine fibroids can interfere with the baby’s ability to turn head down to facilitate vaginal delivery.
3. Stalled Labor.
Uterine fibroids can interfere with the ability of the uterus to contract and push the baby out, or the fibroid can block the cervical opening.
4. Placental abruption.
The presence of fibroids makes the mom at higher risk for a placental abruption where the placenta tears away from the wall of the uterus before delivery. That tearing away creates an emergency because the placenta delivers oxygen to the fetus.
5. Preterm delivery.
Women with uterine fibroids are more likely to deliver before their due date.
What are the Symptoms and Risk Factors for Fibroids?
No Need to Panic
These facts are not intended to cause panic, and risk factors are very dependent on the size and location of the uterine fibroids. Talk to your obstetrician if you have fibroids and want to become pregnant. All obstetricians have experience dealing with fibroids during pregnancy. Most women who have fibroids and become pregnant do not need to see an OB who deals with high-risk pregnancies, but your doctor can help you make the best decision for you and your baby.
Do you have fibroids? Did you have trouble with conception or delivery?
Image credit: Niko Knigge; Howard Ignatius