Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are noncancerous growths that develop in or on the uterus. They can interfere with pregnancy in many ways. The ones that grow on the inside wall of your uterus can cause changes in the endometrial tissue, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to your uterine wall. Fibroids that develop outside of your uterus can interfere with pregnancy by compressing or blocking the Fallopian tubes, thereby preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.
Symptoms of Fibroids
The severity of your symptoms will depend on the number, size, and location of the fibroids. You may experience severe, painful cramps and abnormal or excessive bleeding, especially during your periods. You also may have difficulty with moving your bowels or urinating if you have fibroids that put pressure on your rectum or bladder. Hemorrhoids may also develop if you become constipated. However, if your fibroids are small, you may not have any symptoms at all—in fact, you may not know that you have fibroids until you go through infertility testing.
Causes of Fibroids
The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but they require estrogen to grow. They often shrink after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.
diagnostic tests for fibroids
Your medical history and a pelvic exam are necessary for diagnosing fibroids. Listed below are tests that your physician may also use to confirm the diagnosis:
A scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to detect fibroids in and around the uterus and cervix.
A procedure that uses x-rays and a special dye to detect fibroids on the inside of your uterus and to see if your Fallopian tubes are open.
A procedure in which your doctor uses a narrow fiber-optic telescope inserted into the uterine cavity to look for and sometimes remove fibroids.
A procedure in which your doctor uses a narrow fiber-optic telescope inserted through an incision near your navel to look for and sometimes remove fibroids.
treatment for fibroids
Your doctor may want to treat your fibroids surgically or with medications. A physician can remove fibroids during a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, or through an open incision (myomectomy). Your physician may prescribe medications that stop or interfere with your body's estrogen production to shrink fibroids and prevent them from growing larger. Once your stop the medication; however, the fibroids will regrow. Therefore, we mainly use medication for treatment prior to surgery. You can only use these medications for a few months—long-term use may increase your risk of bone loss. Keep in mind that treatments do not provide a cure; new fibroids can grow after treatment.