Uterine fibroids and uterine polyps are both common abnormal benign growths that manifest in the uterus and unfortunately, to date, experts can not tell us how to prevent polyps in the uterus or how to avoid the formation of fibroids.
Although polyps and fibroids are not the same, they can cause similar symptoms and often contribute to female infertility. Today we are going to look at the difference between a polyp and a fibroid in the uterus and how they may affect fertility.
Let’s look at a basic comparison to help your understanding of the similarities and differences between uterine fibroids and endometrial polyps. Then, we will look at the way fibroids and polyps might prevent pregnancy. In the end, we will discuss solutions available to treat these conditions and increase the chances of conceiving a child.
What Are Polyps and Fibroids in the Uterus?
|What are other names for them?||Uterine fibroids, leiomyomas, myomas||Uterine polyps, endometrial polyps|
|What are they?||Benign tumors in or on the uterus||Abnormal growths on the uterine lining, the endometrium|
|What do they look like?||Round or oval in shape, sometimes growing from a stalk||Round or oval in shape, sometimes growing on a stalk|
|Where are they located?||Inside the uterus, on the uterus or within the uterus muscle wall||Inside the uterine cavity|
|How big are they?||From a few mm to a melon size||From a few mm to a few cm|
|Are they hard or soft?||Hard like a rock||Soft|
|How many can I have?||Single or multiple||Single or multiple|
|Are they painful?||Not always, but they can cause unpleasant and painful symptoms||Not always, but they can cause unpleasant and painful symptoms|
|Can they lead to cancer?||Extremely rarely||Rarely|
|How often are they cancerous?||Less than 0.1%||Less than 5%|
Fibroids and polyps are not life-threatening but might cause severe symptoms reducing the quality of the patient’s life in general, including reducing the patient’s ability to conceive, carry or deliver a baby.
Fibroids vs. Polyps: Similar Symptoms of Very Different Conditions
|Can they be asymptomatic?||Yes, in ~50% of cases||Yes, in ~65% of cases|
|What are the primary symptoms?||
|Can they cause anemia?||Yes||Yes|
|Can they cause infertility?||Yes, in 5-10% of cases||Yes, in 15-25% of cases|
|Who is at risk?||
|How are they diagnosed?||Physical examination, ultrasound, or MRI||Saline sonohysterography (a special ultrasound study) most commonly, ultrasound or MRI|
|Can they disappear?||Yes, after menopause fibroids can shrink||Yes, polyps can disappear on their own|
|Can they be treated?||Yes, surgically and non-surgically||Yes, non-surgical hysteroscopic removal|
Can Polyp or Fibroid in the Uterus Impair Fertility?
There are a number of known reasons for female infertility. In some cases, only one factor impacts the ability to conceive; in other cases, a combination of factors cause fertility issues. Therefore, it’s important to consider all possible conditions, including polyps or fibroids.
Polyps and fibroids found in the uterus can affect a woman’s fertility. Their size and location should be considered first when evaluating a female for fertility status and planning treatment if needed. Uterine fibroids contribute to infertility in about 5 to10% of all cases and endometrial polyps contribute about 15 to 25% of the time.
4 Ways That Uterine Fibroids And Polyps Can Affect Fertility
- Fibroids growing inside the uterine cavity (submucosal fibroids) and polyps might act as natural barriers physically preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg;
- Growths may block the cervix, preventing the sperm from reaching the egg to fertilize it;
- Large growths can exert pressure on the fallopian tubes effectively blocking the path of the sperm and successful fertilization. Depending on the location of the blockage, a fertilized egg may not be able to reach and attach to the uterine wall to begin a pregnancy;
- Numerous or large rock-hard fibroids of any type might alter the uterus’ shape affecting implantation or the viability of the pregnancy.
The presence of polyps and fibroids in the uterus does not necessarily make a woman infertile. However, they might cause conception issues or complications during pregnancy, such as a miscarriage, placental abruption, or the need for cesarean delivery. If a woman with fibroids or polyps desires to become pregnant, she should consult with a specialist to understand her options.
Video: How Does UFE Work?
Can Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treat Infertility?
When the main cause of infertility is identified, choosing an appropriate treatment is the next vital step. In the case of uterine fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) can be considered a safe and effective solution to treat the symptoms caused by fibroids in women who are still interested in future fertility. The procedure works by blocking the necessary blood supply to the fibroids until they shrink or die eliminating painful symptoms and blockages they were creating. The UFE procedure is non-surgical and doesn’t require a hospital stay offering a much faster recovery compared to surgical treatments. Because the procedure is minimally-invasive, the risks of surgery are avoided, too.
Patients with uterine fibroids who have the UFE procedure can conceive and deliver a full-term baby naturally unlike women who have had a myomectomy (a fibroid surgery) and will require a C-section.
To learn more about the UFE procedure, fibroids, and fertility contact The Atlanta Fibroid Center Today. There is no reason to continue suffering from fibroids and their unpleasant symptoms. Set up a consultation today with one of the Nation’s leading fibroid experts, Dr. John Lipman, and let his expertise and the Atlanta Fibroid Center help you become fibroid free.
To make an appointment, please call 678-679-6206, or go to ATLii.com.