Fibroids & Fertility — Everything that You Need to Know!
A lot of factors can affect a woman’s fertility. One of these factors could be Fibroids, which are also more commonly known as Myomas. Fibroids are not as uncommon as people might think. They affect at least 7 out of 10 women. For Black women, the statistics are higher — Fibroids affect 9 out of every 10 Black Women.
So what are Fibroids and how do they affect one’s fertility? Let’s find out!
Fibroids, or also known as Myomas, are benign tumors that are made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue and usually develop in the uterus. Although statistics say that about 70% to 80% of women will develop Fibroids, not all of them will show symptoms or would need treatment. So how do we, doctors, determine when Myomas need to be addressed?
When Anemia Occurs Due to Heavy Periods
Fibroids should be addressed once they start causing heavy periods leading a person to become anemic or require blood transfusions. So how does one know that they are anemic? Signs of anemia are variable but the most common and concerning include fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, new onset frequent headaches, muscle weakness/cramps, tiredness or sleepiness, heat or cold intolerance, and mental slowing.
If They are Causing “Bulk Symptoms”
“Bulk Symptoms” are symptoms that compress on the bladder, rectum or ureters (the tubes draining the kidneys) and cause you to need to pee often or (rarely), they block the drainage of blood or fluid from your kidneys or legs leading to leg or kidney swelling. Bulk Symptoms can cause difficulty with emptying your bowels or they can make it difficult during times of intimacy because you just feel “full”. They can also cause your abdomen to enlarge such that clothes don’t fit anymore or you appear chronically bloated or pregnant.
When it Starts to Affect Your Fertility
So, how do these pesky Fibroids affect your fertility? Well, there are several ways that Fibroids could affect your fertility. Their location and size are essential in determining if it can affect your fertility or not. Fibroids that are too large or those which are sitting inside the uterine cavity can affect your fertility. This is why getting yourself checked by a professional will definitely help you determine if one, you have Fibroids, and two, if those Fibroids will affect your fertility, pregnancy, or overall health in any way.
There are various reasons why having Fibroids could mean that you would need treatment. One of the major reasons would be to preserve one’s fertility. There are various ways we can remove the Fibroids. Let’s talk about my favorite way of extracting Fibroids!
Fertility preserving surgery for fibroids is called Myomectomy. The type of myomectomy is determined by your surgeon & their assessment of your symptoms and fibroid location.
This type of myomectomy is my personal favorite. The procedure basically involves two steps: using a hysteroscope (a telescope made to check one’s uterus), we determine where the Fibroids are located in the uterus, then the Myomas are carefully removed through the channels in the scope.
Hysteroscopy is the gold standard, non-invasive procedure for looking inside the uterus. It involves no cuts on the skin and is typically performed while the patient is under anesthesia. Although a simple look inside the uterus with the camera (diagnostic hysteroscopy) can be done without anesthesia, in suitable patients at the office, operative hysteroscopy such as myomectomy, polypectomy, or lysis of adhesions is performed under anesthesia in an operating room/surgical theater!
In a nutshell, Fibroids are very common benign tumors in the uterus. Symptoms from Fibroids can vary and that depends on their location and size. Size also matters because even a small submucosal fibroid, for example, can cause heavy bleeding or miscarriage or preterm delivery. They can also recur even if you have had them removed in the past.
If you think you are showing symptoms of Fibroids, talk to your gynecologist today! It is so much better to make sure that you can take all the necessary steps to preserve your fertility earlier, rather than later.