Who Should Consider Fibroid Removal Surgery?
Up to 80% of women develop uterine fibroids, or noncancerous growths in the uterus, by the age of 50. With so many women experiencing these benign growths during reproductive years, how do fibroids affect fertility? Is fibroid removal surgery necessary for getting pregnant?
How fibroids affect pregnancy
Although many women can have healthy pregnancies and deliveries with fibroids, up to almost one-third of women may experience some complications. Notably, the most common complication is more intense pain during pregnancy. However, fibroids can also increase the risk of preterm delivery, cesarean delivery, restricted fetal development, and possibly miscarriage.
Can I get pregnant naturally?
What about getting pregnant in the first place? Do fibroids make conceiving more difficult? In many cases, the answer is no. Typically, if a woman has trouble conceiving, fertility specialists will recommend other treatments or lifestyle changes before suggesting fibroid removal. For example, many women experience improvements in fertility from eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and reducing stress.
How do I know if I have fibroids?
Many women experience no symptoms of fibroids. Commonly, fibroids are only detected when a doctor feels the growth during a pelvic exam. If a woman does experience fibroid symptoms, some of the most common include:
Prolonged, heavy, or painful periods
- Low back pain
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Pressure in the lower abdomen
Reasons to consider myomectomy
The procedure to remove fibroids is called a myomectomy. Unlike a hysterectomy, a myomectomy keeps the uterus in place. Just because a woman has fibroids does not mean a myomectomy is necessary. However, if the fibroids are interfering with fertility or causing severe, disruptive symptoms, a woman may consider removal.
How does surgery affect my fertility?
Women who undergo myomectomy surgery need to wait 3-6 months to try getting pregnant. Each case will be different. However, research has found that women who have less than 6 fibroids removed are more likely to get pregnant without difficulty. The surgery may also increase a woman’s need to deliver via c-section, as myomectomy can affect the strength of the uterus.
When to see a doctor
Women who experience difficulty getting pregnant for 6-12 months should consult with a fertility specialist. Often, some lifestyle changes can significantly improve fertility. If medical conditions, such as fibroids, are present, the doctor may recommend surgery or other treatment options. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider or fertility specialist.