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.
Indicators of fibroids
Once diagnostic testing is complete, your physician will review your treatment options. Many patients are surprised to learn that IVF is not their only treatment option. However, IVF would be the first line of treatment for patients with the following conditions:
The severity of your symptoms will depend on the number, size, and location of the fibroids. If the 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. Common symptoms indicating fibroids include:
The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but they require estrogen to grow. They often shrink after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.
Diagnostic testing 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:
Treatment for fibroids
It’s important to know that treatments do not cure fibroids, rather they manage them — new fibroids can regrow after treatment. To treat fibroids, your doctor may want to take care of them surgically, with medications, or with a combination of both.
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. However, once you stop taking the medication, the fibroids will regrow. Therefore, we mainly use medication for treatment prior to surgery. You can only use these medications for a few months because long-term use may increase your risk of bone loss.