“I have uterine fibroids and I’m pregnant. Could they affect my pregnancy and baby?” This is a common concern for most to-be moms who are aware that they have fibroids. In most cases, fortunately, fibroids do not interfere with a pregnancy. But depending on the size and location of the fibroid, it may lead to some complications. As it is risky to undergo any type of treatment during pregnancy, it is better to know the kind of treatment that is available before you plan to have a baby.
What are uterine fibroids? What causes fibroid tumors?
Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that are formed in the muscle tissue present within the uterus’ walls. They are often of different sizes, varying from being as tiny as a small pea to as big as an orange. They may grow outside the uterine wall, inside the uterine cavity (womb) or within the uterine wall itself. Women may even have multiple fibroids of different sizes at the same time too.
However, what exactly causes fibroids is unknown. They are commonly seen in women who have a family history of fibroids. Fibroids increase in size in response to the hormone estrogen. The growth is rapid during the reproductive period and declines by menopause as the body stops to produce estrogen. Some of the factors that contribute to the formation of fibroids include:
- No history of pregnancy (nulliparity)
- Onset of menstrual cycle
What are some of the common fibroids symptoms?
Often, fibroids do not produce any symptoms, even if they are large in size. They are often detected directly on a pelvic examination. When women experience symptoms, the commonest ones are:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding known as menorrhagia
- Pressure on the urinary bladder causing frequent urging to urinate
- Pressure on rectum leading to constipation
- Change in waist size and abdominal shape
- Abdominal cramps during periods
Can uterine fibroids affect pregnancy?
Though fibroids are common, complications during a pregnancy are not. Usually, the woman may experience pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Thus, being aware of its symptoms can help timely detection and avoid potential complications like the following:
- Pain: fibroids are under the influence of estrogen, which is very high during a pregnancy. This can lead to an increase in their size causing pain. The pain is usually treated with simple painkillers, but caution should be taken before taking medications during the last trimester as they are associated with developmental defects.
- Compromised blood supply: If the fibroid is close to the placenta, it may affect the blood supply to the growing baby leading to complications like difficulty in breathing, trouble with weight gain, etc.
- Risk of preterm births increases
- If the fibroid is in the lower region of the uterus, it may block the cervix making normal delivery impossible. A C- section will be needed.
- In rare cases, the fibroid may be removed after the delivery of the baby is done via a caesarean section, or the uterus may also need to be removed.
After delivery, the fibroids shrink in size becoming less bothersome. But if symptoms persist, your doctor will decide on a course of action.
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