How Fibroids Can Cause Secondary Infertility

Image of the female reproductive system

A link between fibroids and secondary infertility exists. They can interfere with a woman's fertility in two ways:

  • She may be unable to get pregnant, or
  • She may be able to conceive, but the pregnancy ends in miscarriage.

What is a A Fibroid?

A fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor that grows in a woman's uterus. They may be found:

  • On the walls of the uterus
  • Outside the uterus
  • Inside the cavity of the uterus

Another form of fibroid grows on a stalk. This type is said to have a mushroom-like appearance.

Approximately one in four women will have a fibroid at some point during their lives. It is possible to have a fibroid in one's body and not have any symptoms; only about 50 percent of women experience any symptoms of this condition.

How Large Can Fibroids Get?

A woman may have one or several fibroids in and around her uterus. The size can vary from very small (the size of a pea) to extremely large (approximately the size of a newborn baby).

Symptoms of Fibroids

A woman with a fibroid may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of heaviness in the abdominal region
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Generalized abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Urinating frequently
  • Swelling in the legs (due to a large fibroid pressing against veins going into the legs)

All of these symptoms can indicate other medical conditions, some of which can be quite serious. If you are experiencing any of them, consult with a doctor who has experience treating women's health concerns right away.

Link Between Fibroids and Secondary Infertility

Fibroids do not interfere with an egg being fertilized by a sperm but it may interfere with the fertilized egg by implanting itself into the wall of the uterus. If implantation does occur, the presence of the fibroid may make it impossible for the uterus to increase in size as the fetus develops. In this scenario, the pregnancy ends in miscarriage. A fibroid can also block off a woman's fallopian tube, causing a problem with fertility.

It is possible for a woman with a fibroid to conceive and carry the baby to term. If left untreated, it is likely that the fibroid will continue to grow. When the woman decides she wants to add to her family, the increased size of the fibroid may be a factor in her inability to conceive.

Treatment for Fibroids

Fibroids can be removed during a surgical procedure known as a myomectomy. The fibroids are cut away from the walls of the uterus, leaving the uterus itself intact. The recovery period for the surgery varies.

If an abdominal myomectomy is performed, recovery will take between four and six weeks.

A laparoscopic myomectomy has a much shorter recovery time - between one and three weeks. During this type of surgery, a laparoscope is inserted through a small incision. This device allows doctors to locate the fibroids so they can be removed. This surgical option is much less invasive than a full abdominal myomectomy.

The third option for removing fibroids is the hysteroscopic myomectomy. With this type of surgery, doctors are able to access the uterus through the vagina. The time to recover following the procedure is very short - only a few days.

Fibroids and secondary infertility are related, but there may be other factors at play. If a woman is experiencing secondary infertility and also has fibroids, a thorough investigation should be conducted to confirm that the fibroids are, in fact, the cause of her fertility issues. If there are other fertility problems, she may not want to undergo a surgical procedure if it isn't likely to increase her fertility.

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How Fibroids Can Cause Secondary Infertility