Fertility and pregnancy-related questions are at the top of the list when a woman of childbearing age is diagnosed with uterine fibroids. “Will I be able to have kids? How can fibroids affect my pregnancy and fertility? Will I need a C-section? Am I at risk of a miscarriage?” And the list goes on.
To begin with, let’s talk about the impact of fibroids on your fertility. According to The Fertility Institute, the size and location of a fibroid determines whether it will affect your fertility. If a fibroid is inside the uterine cavity or is larger than 6 cm in diameter, then it may reduce the chances of conception by up to 70%. Some of the ways fibroids can affect your fertility are:
- Uterine fibroids can change the shape of the cervix affecting how many sperm can enter the uterus.
- Fibroids can change the shape of the uterus interfering with the movement of the sperm or embryo.
- Fibroids can block fallopian tubes.
- Fibroid tumors can affect the size of the lining of the uterine cavity.
- Uterine fibroids can affect the amount of blood flow to the uterine cavity decreasing the ability of an embryo to implant itself to the uterine wall or develop.
And unfortunately, between 20 to 50 percent of women of childbearing age have fibroids. The good news is that you have options.
Understand Your Options: Pregnancy after Myomectomy vs. Pregnancy after UFE
To learn more about what to expect after myomectomy and UFE, watch the full video “Fibroids and Pregnancy: Understand Your Options“. In this video, Dr. John Lipman of Atlanta Fibroid Center answers the following questions:
- Should I worry if I am diagnosed with fibroids while being pregnant?
- Is C-section required after myomectomy or UFE?
- Can I have a full term birth after myomectomy or UFE?
- Should I expect a more difficult pregnancy after UFE?
- Is it safe to breastfeed after UFE?
and other questions about pregnancy and fertility after myomectomy or UFE.
Fertility and Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Having a healthy pregnancy and delivery are both possible after uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). A 2017 study published in the journal Radiology investigated 359 women with fibroids unable to conceive who then underwent UFE. The researchers of the study followed up after an average of about six years. In that time, 149 women, or 41.5%, became pregnant at least once and 131 women gave birth to a total of 150 babies. It was the first pregnancy for over 85% of these women. Of the women with unsuccessful pregnancies, miscarriage was the most common reason.
The researchers concluded that UFE can be recommended to women with fibroids as a treatment option that restores fertility. Since the time of this study, there have been 12 more pregnancies resulting in two ongoing pregnancies and eight live births.
Related Video: The Miracle Baby of Doris Combs
Doris Combs had a UFE in 1997; her son Jalen Comb Jackson was born in 2001. Read the full article “uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)“.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Biomedicine showed that the frequency of pregnancy and delivery complications among women who have had UFE for fibroid treatment isn’t significantly different from healthy women without fibroids. What’s more, these complication rates were much lower in comparison to women with fibroids who haven’t had UFE but were treated with either medical therapy or had no other treatment at all.
Making a Decision That Is Best for You
At the end of the day, it’s important to choose a treatment option that is right for you. It’s important to research and understand all pros and cons of each procedure and discuss your unique situation with experienced doctors (yes, in plural!). Due to the fact that myomectomy is usually performed by an OB/GYN and UFE is performed by an experienced interventional radiologist, you should seek expert advice from both specialists to fully understand how myomectomy and UFE can affect your fertility.