Does Fibroid Affect the Fertility of a Woman?

By Dr. Okechukwu Amako, MBBS (Ibadan)
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A fibroid is a harmless tumour of the womb. It is harmless meaning that a woman can have a fibroid and not be aware of it (manifest any symptoms) throughout her reproductive life. Fibroid arises from the tissue of the womb and can occur at different locations in the womb: fibroids can develop just under the tissue lining the wall of the cavity of the womb, protruding into this cavity; they can occur within the muscular wall of the womb; and they can develop on the outside wall of the womb where they stick out like balls on the surface of the womb.

Fibroids commonly occur in women in their 30s and 40s; fibroids hardly occur in women during the adolescent years. As a woman, you have a higher risk of having fibroids during your reproductive years if you are black (your race), are obese, have a family history of fibroid (your mom or grandmother had fibroid), saw your first menstrual period at a younger age (at the age of 7 or 8), or you consume red meat a lot and take less of green vegetables

Though many women with fibroids may not show any symptoms, those who do may complain of the following:

1. Heavy bleeding during their menstrual periods; the bleeding can last more than a week

2. Feeling of pressure or pain anywhere in the lower region of the abdomen; the woman may also feel a mass in the lower part of her tummy (for large fibroids)

3. Difficulty with passing out urine due to the fibroids compressing a part of her bladder.

4. There may be difficulty with defecating (constipation) depending on the size and location of the fibroid in the womb.

A lot of women with fibroids become pregnant and give birth safely, especially if the fibroids are small. But many women who discover that they have fibroids worry whether that can prevent them from getting pregnant. The truth is fibroids causing infertility is very rare;

However, fibroids can affect the outcome of a pregnancy in the following ways:

-pregnancy loss where the presence of numerous fibroids on the inner lining of the womb or within its muscular wall affects the implantation of the fertilised egg, or fibroids obstructing the entrance of the fallopian tubes into the womb cavity prevent the fertilised egg from reaching the womb for implantation.

-premature labour which can lead to premature delivery of the developing baby

-the presence of large fibroids in the womb which can hamper the normal growth of the developing baby in the womb.

For women, whose gynaecologists have confirmed that they have fibroids, there may not be any need for a radical treatment if they don't have any symptoms, including problems in their pregnancy, as most fibroids shrink and disappear after menopause. However, a woman with fibroids should see her gynaecologist if:

-she has prolonged heavy menstrual bleeding; this can lead to anaemia (low blood level) and iron deficiency in her if nothing is done to address it.

-she bleeds between her menstrual periods

-she has been experiencing waist pain for a long time

-she has difficulty with passing out urine

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Published Thursday, May 18th 2017

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