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.
At our comprehensive OB/GYN clinics in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island, A. Michael Coppa, MD and our team are here to help you navigate infertility and have a healthy pregnancy. Talk to Dr. Coppa about how fibroids might impact your chances of getting pregnant.
Understanding uterine fibroids
Many women of childbearing age have fibroids. They’re abnormal growths that develop in the uterus, but they’re generally harmless and rarely cause uterine cancer.
Fibroids range in size and in location. Some are very small, while others can be large and distort the uterus. Subserosal fibroids grow outside the uterus, intramural fibroids are located inside the uterine wall, and submucosal fibroids are inside the uterus, or womb.
It’s possible to have fibroids and not know it, since they don’t always produce symptoms. If you do experience fibroid symptoms, you might notice:
- Heavy or long menstrual periods
- Irregular bleeding between periods
- Lower back pain
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
It’s not clear what causes fibroids, but they’re linked to family history. African-American women are more likely to have fibroids than women of other races. Additional risk factors include being overweight, being over age 30, and having been pregnant.
If you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re thinking about having a baby, Dr. Coppa can help you find out if there’s anything that could affect your fertility, from fibroids to endometriosis and more.
How fibroids affect pregnancy
Fibroids are common. Most of the time, they don’t affect your ability to get pregnant. But if you have a lot of fibroids or they’re submucosal fibroids, they may affect fertility.
Having fibroids doesn’t interfere with ovulation, but submucosal fibroids can make it harder for your uterus to support conception and maintain pregnancy. In some cases, this type of fibroid can cause infertility or pregnancy loss.
Dr. Coppa diagnoses fibroids with a pelvic exam that might include an ultrasound or MRI. Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, he recommends a treatment plan that’s right for you. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it’s important to monitor the fibroids closely.
Having fibroids while pregnant can increase your risk of complications during labor and delivery, including the likelihood that you’ll need a cesarean section. Your risk of placental abruption or preterm delivery might also be higher if you have fibroids.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant and are concerned about your fertility or you’re pregnant and have fibroids, Dr. Coppa is here to help you have a healthy, full-term baby. Call the location closest to you or request an appointment online today to learn more.