Fibroids and Pregnancy - Uterine Fibroids (Leiomyomas)

Fibroids are rarely connected with pregnancy because the majority of women who become pregnant are under 30, whereas the majority of women who suffer from fibroids are over the age of 40. However, a few younger women do have fibroids, some of which occasionally interfere with the normal progress of a pregnancy. Though fibroids tend to grow in size during pregnancy, it is unlikely that they will cause you any symptoms. Some pregnant women do experience minor symptoms, particularly pelvic pain and light spotting.

The majority of fibroids are of no significance and have no effect upon a woman's fertility, her pregnancy or delivery. Some, however, impinge upon or distort the actual cavity of the uterus and may cause complications in pregnancy, as may a very large fibroid which by virtue of its size distorts the uterus and the other pelvic organs. Uterine fibroids can affect any woman at any age. In fact, if your health care provider looked hard enough, she could probably find a small fibroid in pretty much any woman. However, certain women are at increased risk of developing uterine fibroids. Women between the ages of 20 and 50 are more likely to develop larger fibroids. Women of African descent are also more likely to develop fibroids.

Fibroids that distort the cavity of the uterus and very large fibroids may occasionally cause infertility and, if this is considered to be so, they can be removed by an operation known as myomectomy in which the fibroids alone are removed and the conserved uterus is then carefully reconstructed. Similarly, if it is considered that fibroids predispose a woman to recurrent or habitual abortion, they are removed by myomectomy. Large fibroids may be responsible for the onset of premature labor. This is unusual, however, because they must be at least 10 cm in diameter to have this effect. They may occasionally predispose to an extra amount of bleeding after the baby has been delivered. The presence of such fibroids, however, is always known beforehand and precautions can be taken which will usually prevent any postpartum haemorrhage.

Types of Uterine Fibroids

There are three types of uterine fibroids, classified according to where they grow in your uterus.

Intramural Fibroids: Intramural fibroids grow inside the wall of your uterus. They are the most common type of fibroids.
Subserosal Fibroids: Subserosal fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus, and can swell to large sizes. Sometimes these fibroids grow on a stalk and reach out towards other organs.
Submucosal Fibroids: Submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterus. They account for only 5% of all uterine fibroids.

Common Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids are :

  • prolonged periods
  • heavy bleeding
  • constipation or bloating
  • pain in the legs or back
  • pelvic pain or pressure