What are fibroids?
Uterine leiomyomas or better known as uterine fibroids are non-cancerous benign growths within the uterus. It is estimated that nearly 70% to 80% of all women will suffer from at least one fibroid during their lifetime . The causes of fibroids are not fully understood but it is believed they are caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and hormonal regulation including estrogen and progesterone . Fibroids can range in numbers and size and sometimes become so large they can press against adjacent organs or even make you look pregnant.
Listed below are some of the major symptoms of uterine fibroids [1,2]:
- Abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic region, back, and legs
- Bladder problems including frequent urination
- Constipation or rectal pain
- Visibly enlarged abdomen
Am I at risk for developing fibroids?
As mentioned previously, nearly 70% to 80% will develop at least one fibroid during their lifetime [1,2]. There are, however, certain factors that can increase your risk. We have listed the most important risk factors for developing fibroids below:
- African-American ancestry
- Women between the ages of 30 and 50 years
- Family history of fibroids
- Oral contraceptive use before the age of 16 years
- Consumption of large amounts of beef and pork
- Deficiency of vitamins including vitamin D and vitamin A
- Lack of fruits and vegetables in diet
How can fibroids effect pregnancy?
Uterine fibroids do not eliminate a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. However, the presence of fibroids can make it more difficult to conceive or carry the baby to full term . One of the most important factors in determining how much of an effect the fibroids can have on pregnancy is location .
Submucosal fibroids (as seen in the image above) have the most impact on pregnancies. This means that the fibroid is growing within the muscle layer of the uterus and can protrude into the uterine cavity. Distortion of the uterine anatomy can make it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach or implant itself to the uterine lining . Other complications of fibroids on pregnancy are listed below [4,5]:
- Pre-term labor
- Longer neonatal hospitalization
- The need for cesarean section (C-section) to deliver baby
- Baby being in an unsafe position for delivery
- Failure of cervix to fully dilate during labor
- The placenta pulling away from the uterine walls before delivery, which can deprive the growing fetus from oxygen
If the fertilized egg implants near a growing fibroid, the fetus may be deprived of blood and oxygen . Without the necessary nutrient-rich fluids, the fetus may not survive. This is extremely important as several studies have shown that fibroids get larger during early pregnancy .
Is there hope for women with fibroids?
Having fibroids doesn’t mean you can’t have children. Recent studies have shown that when the fibroid growths are surgically removed, a woman’s chances of successfully carrying a baby to full term increase dramatically [3-5]. The procedure is fast, pain-free, and some women can return to their normal daily activities within 24 hours. For larger fibroids, recovery time may take several weeks.
What can I do from here?
If uterine fibroids are ruining your ability to have a baby, Dr. Lyndon Taylor and his team are the fibroid experts you’ve been searching for. Dr. Taylor is located in the Chicagoland area and helps women overcome fertility issues especially related to fibroids. Call 708-848-9440 for more information on what options are available to you so that you may start the family you’ve always wanted.
 Bulun SE. Uterine Fibroids. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:1344-55. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1209993.
 Stewart EA, Laughlin-Tommaso SK, Catherino WH, Lalitkumar S, Gupta D, Vollenhoven B. Uterine fibroids. Nature Reviews. 2016:2;6043. DOI: 10.1038/nrdp.2016.43.
 Zepiridis LI, Grimbizis GF, Tarlatzis BC. Infertility and uterine fibroids. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2016:24;pp 66-73.
 Benaglia L, Cardellicchio L, Filippi F, Paffoni A, verecellini P, Somigliana E, Fedele L. The rapid growth of fibroids during early pregnancy. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85933. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085933.
 Vannuccini S, Clifton VL, Fraser IS, Taylor HS, Critchley H, Giudice LC, Petraglia F. Infertility and reproductive disorders: impact of hormonal and inflammatory mechanisms on pregnancy outcome. Human Reproduction Update. 2016;22(1):pp 104-115. DOI: 10.1093/humupd/dmv044.