Fibroids, or noncancerous growths that develop in the wall of the uterus, are extremely common. But if you have them and hope to start a family, you might wonder if they’ll throw a wrench in your carefully laid mom-to-be plans.
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Here, fertility expert Julierut Tantibhedhyangkul, MD, explains what you need to know.
Q: Can fibroids affect your fertility?
A: Most fibroids don’t, but some can ― depending on their size and location ― interfere with the sperm’s ability to get to the egg, fertilization or the implantation of an embryo. Fibroids can also get in the way during a pregnancy if they’re positioned in the uterus where the baby needs to be. In most instances, though, doctors will advise leaving fibroids alone and closely monitor your pregnancy.
Q: What happens when fibroids are interfering with your fertility?
A: The good news is there are many treatment options. But it’s important to know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your doctor can recommend the most effective and safest option for you, based on your family goals, symptoms and the location, size and number of fibroids.
Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to remove fibroids while preserving your fertility, called a myomectomy. Exactly how it’s done depends on the size and location of the fibroids (also known as myomas).
If the fibroids grow significantly into the uterine cavity, the procedure may be done through your vagina by hysteroscopy. If the fibroids are located in the wall of the uterus or on its surface, the surgeon might consider removing them by laparoscopy — through several small abdominal incisions. An open surgery might be needed if the fibroids are large or if there are many of them. After the myomectomy, your uterus is repaired and functions normally.
Your doctor will discuss the benefits, risks and potential complications of any treatment option with you.
Q: How does having a myomectomy affect your likelihood of conceiving and any future pregnancies?
A: You’ll need to wait three to six months after your myomectomy to start trying to get pregnant to give your uterus time to heal.
How many fibroids you had removed plays a role in whether you’ll be able to get pregnant. Research shows women who have had more than six fibroids removed are less likely to conceive than women with fewer fibroids taken out. Some women who had myomectomy might also need to deliver a baby via C-section since the procedure may weaken the uterus.