Fibroids and infertility

Fibroids are tumors that are located in the pelvic regions of a woman. These tumors are almost always non cancerous. Also, in almost 75 percent of these cases, these fibroids are harmless and do not need to be removed from the body. However, in the rest 25 per cent, fibroids have caused a number of complications, including infertility.

In general, women aged between 30 to 50 years old have a higher risk of developing fibroids in their pelvis. This age period is the period when women have the highest chance of conceiving. So, this shows that there is a correlation between the development of fibroids and fertility.

Even a decade ago, women who developed fibroids – especially huge fibroids – often removed these benign tumors from their body through surgery. This surgery is known as a hysterectomy. However, it removes the tumors by removing the uterus. Since a woman cannot become pregnant without a uterus, hysterectomy is no longer the best alternative for a woman.

A number of factors have been held responsible for increasing the risks of developing fibroids. A few of these are:

1. Using birth control pills – especially in adolescent years: The risk is highest if the pills are used by girls who are aged between 13 and 16 years. A few researchers have argued that birth control pills lower the chances of developing fibroids. However, even these researchers agree that birth control pills should not be used in the early ages.

2. Having pregnancies that last shorter than 5 months: The risk increases as the number of such pregnancies increases.

3. Eating red meat: Women should control their intake of red meat since several studies have found a relationship between red meat and fibroids.

Surprisingly, smoking has been found to reduce the risks of developing fibroids. Also, out of all the races in the United States, African American women have the highest probability of suffering from fibroids – even though no study could yet suggest an explanation for this.

Researchers have provided a number of reasons why infertility occurs from the development of fibroids. The most convincing reason is that the fibroid thrust against the fallopian tubes. This creates an obstruction in the opening of the fallopian tubes – preventing the sperm from coming in contact with the ovum (egg). Alternatively, it may be suggested that the obstruction, even though it lets sperm pass into the fallopian tubes, prevents the release of the ovum into the tubes.
Other researchers have suggested that the fibroids prevent the proper implantation of the eggs and the growth of the embryo. All these lead to infertility as well as other complications, such as miscarriage.

A number of tests have developed in the last decade. These tests cannot only find whether fibroids have developed but also whether the fibroids are causing infertility. The most popular of this test is the pelvic exam – which detects fibroids using ultrasounds.

Often treatment is not sought by women suffering from fibroids. However, if the fibroids interfere with fertility, then these women can get these tumors removed through surgeries. Unlike hysterectomy, these surgeries do not remove the uterus. Undoubtedly, this method of treatment is a boon for women who want to get pregnant. Common types of such surgeries are: (which removes the fibroids through the abdomen), hysteroscopic myomectomy which removes the fibroids in the uterus through the cervix and the vagina – with the help of a fiberoptic telescope) and laparoscopic myomectomy (which removes fibroids using laparascopy).

In addition, these surgeries do not cause any side effects. And less than 26 per cent of the women will need to undergo the surgery for the second time.

Last updated on Nov 17th, 2010 and filed under Reproductive Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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