Fibroids are benign growths in your uterus that can range in size from very small to much larger, about the size of a grapefruit. But did you know that fibroids affect over 35 million women in America?
If you find yourself suffering from these common growths and are thinking of starting a family, you’re most likely concerned about how they affect your fertility. At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG, in Las Vegas, Nevada, we understand.
Our experienced and compassionate providers help women struggling with the inconvenient and uncomfortable symptoms of fibroids regain control over their lives. We’ve made this guide to help you better understand what fibroids are and how they affect your fertility.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are the result of fibrous tissue growing and joining together in your uterus. For the most part, these growths can range dramatically in size and positions are non-cancerous, or benign. Unless they are actively causing a negative impact on your quality of life, your provider might not recommend a treatment.
While some women experience no symptoms of fibroids, other women may have debilitating symptoms and severe pain that interfere with their lives every day. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids:
- Periods lasting longer than a week
- Difficulty emptying your bladder fully
- Increased menstrual cramping
- Lower back pain
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Heavy bleeding, especially with clots
- Fullness or pressure in the lower abdomen
- Frequent need to urinate
- Swelling in the abdomen
While doctors are sure what causes fibroids to develop, it is believed that it could be a combination of hormonal factors, changes in extracellular matrix (the material that causes cells to stick together), and genetics.
How do fibroids affect fertility?
If you’ve been trying to conceive and haven’t had success, uterine fibroids may be affecting your inability to conceive. Depending on the size and location in your uterus, fibroids can contribute to infertility. For about 5-10% of women with infertility problems, fibroids do play a role.
Your fertility can be affected by fibroids in multiple ways. The most common include:
- Blocking the fallopian tubes, which makes conception difficult
- Changes to the cervical shape, which may block sperm from entering the uterus
- Impacting your blood circulation, which reduces the likelihood of implantation
- Changes to the shape of your uterus, limiting sperm motility and reducing space for the embryo to grow
Large fibroids may impact the development of your baby, or increase your risk of miscarriage and premature delivery.
What can I do about fibroids?
To treat your fibroids, your providers at Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG will evaluate your medical history, while paying attention to your fibroids and fertility symptoms. We will then conduct a physical exam, and order necessary imaging, such as an ultrasound, and any lab work necessary.
Some surgical solutions, like a hysterectomy, can provide relief from fibroid symptoms but can also affect your ability to have children. Another effective treatment for fibroids, called the Acessa® procedure, preserves your uterus, but isn’t recommended for women who are planning a future pregnancy.
The good news is that effective therapies work to ease your fibroid symptoms and help you reclaim your fertility. If you’re looking to become pregnant, our team takes this into account when creating your personal fibroid treatment plan.
For example, your Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG provider might suggest a myomectomy. This surgical procedure removes fibroids from your uterus, but leaves your uterus intact. This can be a good option for women hoping to become pregnant in the future.
Learn more about fertility and fibroids by contacting Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, or request an appointment online!