What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths or tumours that grow in and around the uterus or womb.  They are formed using muscles and fibrous tissues and can vary in size. Fibroids, also known as myomas or leiomyomas, can have an adverse effect on a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, and in severe cases, can cause infertility. Most women do not know that they have fibroids as the symptoms are so subtle.

How do fibroids affect pregnancy?

Usually, women that have fibroids during pregnancy do not even realize it. One of the most common symptoms of fibroids in pregnant women is pain during the second and third trimesters. This pain is a result of fibroids that are larger than 5 centimetres. Research has shown that 20% to 30% of women experienced complications in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy due to fibroids.

Some of the risks that you may experience during pregnancy, labour and delivery because of fibroids are:

  • Miscarriage- Women that have fibroids face double the chances of having a miscarriage.
  • Foetus growth- The foetus development may be restricted due to the decreased room available in the womb.
  • Breakage of Placenta- The placenta might break, causing the foetus to get a lower amount of vital nutrients and oxygen, resulting in the child being born with mental disorders.
  • Breech Position- Due to restriction in space in the womb, the foetus may not grow in the aligned position most suitable for vaginal delivery.
  • Caesarean delivery- A study states that women that have fibroids are 6 times more likely to have a C-section delivery than women that do not have fibroids.
  • Preterm delivery- Fibroids may cause early contraction of the uterus due to the limited womb space, causing a premature delivery. 

What effect does pregnancy have on fibroids? 

In most cases, fibroids do not grow in size during pregnancy, but there are some cases where this

does happen. Fibroid growth is influenced by estrogen, the level of which increases significantly in a woman’s body during pregnancy. This is the reason why some women might experience growth of fibroids during pregnancy, and many a time, these fibroids begin to decrease in size soon after delivery. This usually depends on the care a woman takes of her body before, during and after pregnancy. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, complications such as fibroids should not arise. 

How to handle fibroids when pregnant 

Usually a fibroid should be left as it is. Fibroids are usually treated with mild pain killers as they can

be painful, and doctors recommend that you take good rest and keep yourself hydrated at all times. In some rare cases, where the fibroids are very severe and are causing great discomfort, the fibroids can be removed through a procedure called myomectomy. In this procedure, the fibroids are removed from within the uterine and outside the uterus very carefully without disturbing the foetus. Fibroids that are situated in your uterine cavity remain untouched as the chances of hurting the foetus are very high. 

How to treat fibroids before pregnancy 

It is wise to treat your fibroids and get rid of them before you get pregnant as it not only improves

your fertility, thereby increasing your chances of getting pregnant but also deals with any unnecessary complications that may arise before, during or after pregnancy. Some of the techniques of getting rid of fibroids include:

  • Myolysis
  • Myomectomy
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists
  • Hormonal birth control pills
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)