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Home > Learn > Getting Pregnant > >Can Fibroids Prevent Pregnancy?

Can Fibroids Prevent Pregnancy?

Jan 15, 24 5 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

Fibroids are much more common than many people realize, and they can have a significant impact on your sexual and reproductive health. Let’s break down what fibroids are, how they can impact fertility, and what you can do about it. 

What Are Fibroids?

Fibroids are noncancerous growths found in or around the uterus. Fibroids are also known as myomas or leiomyomas. For those of reproductive age who were assigned female at birth (AFAB), fibroids are the most common type of noncancerous tumor. [1-2] Fibroids occur in over 77% of AFAB people and can vary greatly in size, location, shape, and symptoms. [1-2] Learn about the different types of fibroids here. 

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes fibroids, but some data suggests that genetics, hormones, nutrition, and more can all contribute to their formation. [1-4] Some specific factors can influence someone’s chances of developing fibroids, including [1,4]:

  • Race: Fibroids are seen in a higher percentage of black women
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Age: Fibroids are most commonly seen in people aged 30 to 40
  • Family history of fibroids
  • Low vitamin D levels

On the other hand, people who have had multiple successful pregnancies or have used hormonal contraception for long periods of time have a smaller chance of developing fibroids. [4] 

Signs & Symptoms of Fibroids

Fibroids don’t always cause symptoms and can often go unnoticed for long periods of time. Those who do experience signs or symptoms of fibroids may experience the following [1,5]:

  • Lower back pain
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Feeling full
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Heavy bleeding or painful periods
  • Anemia
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Preterm labor

Note that some symptoms, such as bleeding between periods, heavy bleeding, difficulty conceiving, and more, are commonly seen in people with irregular hormone levels, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other conditions. [6] Learn more about your hormone levels by using a women’s fertility test, an ovulation test kit, or visiting your healthcare provider. 

Fibroids may be discovered during a regular pelvic or gynecological exam, and providers can learn more about the size and location of the fibroids using various tests or minimally invasive procedures. [1-3] 

Can Fibroids Prevent Pregnancy and Affect Fertility?

There are many factors that can impact fertility and pregnancy, including fibroids. One study found that fibroids may be the sole cause of infertility in up to 3% of people AFAB. [7] Whether or not fibroids will impact reproductive health depends on their size and location in the uterus. For example, pregnancy and live birth rates tend to be lower in those with submucosal fibroids (fibroids that project outside of the uterine tissue and into the endometrial cavity, or the inside of the uterus). [7] On the other hand, fertility doesn’t seem to be as impacted by subserosal fibroids (fibroids that project from the outer wall of the uterus and into the pelvis). [7] Intramural fibroids (fibroids that are embedded in the wall of the uterus) have the potential to compress the fallopian tubes, which can harm fertility. [7] 

You should speak with your healthcare provider if you have questions about fibroids, infertility, or any other reproductive health concerns. 

Treating Fibroids

If you do have fibroids and are hoping to conceive, you may be wondering what your options are. Treatment for fibroids isn’t always necessary, even for those who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant. Managing and treating fibroids depends on the severity of the symptoms, the size of the fibroids, and the location of the fibroids. [1-3] 

Treatment options range from hormonal medications to surgical procedures. For those who are hoping to conceive soon, a myomectomy, or the surgical removal of the fibroids, may be a good option. You should speak to your healthcare provider about what treatment, if any, is right for you. 

If fibroids are causing you discomfort or pain, there are also pain relief methods that you can try from home. These include over-the-counter pain medications, warm compresses, rest, nutritional supplements, and more. 

Natalist: Supporting You Through Your Pregnancy Journey

You should always speak directly to a healthcare provider if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, or you have questions about your fertility and overall health. There is still an ample amount of research needed to better understand the causes, treatment, and prevention methods for uterine fibroids. If you are on the hunt for high-quality prenatal vitamins for women, menstrual cycle supplements, or other fertility and pregnancy items, Natalist can help. Visit the Natalist blog to learn more


References:

  1. Patient FAQ: Uterine fibroids. FAQ074. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. July 2022. Retrieved January 2024. URL.
  2. Segars JH, Parrott EC, Nagel JD, et al. Proceedings from the Third National Institutes of Health International Congress on Advances in Uterine Leiomyoma Research: comprehensive review, conference summary and future recommendations. Hum Reprod Update. 2014;20(3):309-333. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmt058
  3. Uterine Fibroids. NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL
  4. Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids. NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL
  5. What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids? NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL.
  6. Riaz Y, Parekh U. Oligomenorrhea. [Updated 2023 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560575/
  7. Freytag D, Günther V, Maass N, Alkatout I. Uterine Fibroids and Infertility. Diagnostics (Basel). 2021;11(8):1455. Published 2021 Aug 12. doi:10.3390/diagnostics11081455

Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, health equity, and mentoring. She is the CEO of The EpiCentre, an OBGYN spa-like practice, and is a Clinical faculty member of Charleston Southern University.  She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women. 

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