It’s the Common Cause of Infertility You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

It’s the Common Cause of Infertility You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas or myomas, are benign growths that appear in the uterus. These muscle-and fibrous tissue-filled fibroids form in the uterus’s muscular wall and may deform the uterus or uterine cavity. Symptoms related to fibroids include abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pressure or pain and infertility and pregnancy complications.

Fibroids that distort the uterine cavity can lower pregnancy and implantation rates, as shown by improved pregnancy rates following removal of such lesions, although supporting data is conflicting. It is unclear if fibroids increase miscarriage rates.

“Early intervention is essential to minimizing the potential damage fibroids could have on your pregnancy,” stated Dr. Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and Infertility Specialist at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre in New Delhi and Vrindavan.

Approximately 40-80 percent of women have fibroids with the incidence increasing with increasing age.  However, many people do not experience any symptoms from their fibroids.  Small fibroids, usually located outside of the uterine cavity are called asymptomatic fibroids and they do not cause any abnormal bleeding, pain, pressure or other symptoms.

Why do fibroids develop?

Studies have revealed a connection between fibroids and estrogen levels, even though the cause and mechanism of their development are still largely unknown.

“This indicates that they often emerge between the ages of 16 and 50, which are the years when women are most fertile,” stated Dr. Shobha Gupta. “Thereafter, as estrogen levels fall during menopause, fibroids tend to contract.”

Risk factors for developing fibroids include black race, family history, first menses before age ten, not having children, endocrine disrupters such as phthalates, diets high in red meat, alcohol and high blood pressure.

Although there are no definitive ways to prevent the development of fibroids, one study did show high physical activity was associated with a lower risk of developing fibroids.

How are uterine fibroids treated?

Fibroids can be diagnosed by symptoms, physical exam and ultrasound. Rarely, sonohysterograms, hysteroscopy and MRIs are needed for diagnosis.

Treatment for uterine fibroids can vary depending on the associated symptoms and the size, number, and location of the fibroids. If you are not experiencing any symptoms from your fibroids, you may not need treatment. Small fibroids outside of the uterine cavity are left alone.

Periodic pelvic exams and ultrasound may be recommended by your healthcare provider depending on the size or symptoms of your fibroid. If you are experiencing symptoms from your fibroid including anemia, heavy bleeding that limits your activity, moderate to severe pain, infertility or urinary tract and bowel problems, treatment is usually needed to help.

In general, you cannot prevent fibroids. You may be able to reduce your risks associated with fibroids by maintaining a healthy body weight, exercise and getting regular pelvic exams. If you have small fibroids, develop a plan with your healthcare provider to monitor them.

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