An Overview of Uterine Fibroids and Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH

Many people with uterine fibroids can still get pregnant and won’t have issues during pregnancy or delivery. However, for some people, the size and location of fibroids can present problems, both before and after conception. Uterine fibroids are common smooth muscle tumors that may also be called leiomyomas. Depending on the size, location, and symptoms of the fibroids, your doctor may recommend medications or surgery to treat them.

Read on to learn more about uterine fibroids and pregnancy, including how fertility, pregnancy, and delivery may be affected.

Can uterine fibroids affect fertility?

A pregnant person cuddling with their partner
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Some types of uterine fibroids may affect fertility. Others may cause complications during pregnancy or delivery.

Uterine fibroids are classified by Trusted Source Office on Women's Health Governmental authority Go to source their location in the uterus:

  • Submucosal fibroids: These fibroids grow into the uterine cavity.
  • Intramural fibroids: These grow in the wall of the uterus.
  • Subserosal fibroids: These grow on the outside of the uterus.

According to a 2021 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of several studies, subserosal fibroids don’t appear to affect fertility, but submucosal and intramural fibroids may make it more difficult to become pregnant. The exact reasons why uterine fibroids affect fertility aren’t fully understood, but it may be due to issues with implantation.

However, fibroids are not a common cause of infertility. Because of this, your doctor will want to rule out more common causes before deciding to treat your fibroids to try to increase fertility.

Learn some frequently asked questions about uterine fibroids.

How can uterine fibroids and pregnancy affect each other?

Some research has shown Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that uterine fibroids can get bigger during the first trimester of pregnancy. While most uterine fibroids Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source are asymptomatic, large fibroids may cause symptoms like back pain, bleeding, or frequent urination.

Uterine fibroids may also cause issues during pregnancy or delivery.

Problems during pregnancy

Fibroids can cause changes in the shape of your uterus, blood flow, and the fetus’s position. As a result, you may face risks such as:

  • having the fetus in an unusual position Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source inside your uterus
  • having the placenta break away from the uterus before you go into labor
  • experiencing a loss of pregnancy

Problems during delivery

Uterine fibroids may also affect labor and delivery. You may:

  • go into labor early
  • have a breech birth
  • need a cesarean delivery
  • experience heavy bleeding after delivery

Learn more about 8 possible complications of fibroids.

What’s the best way to manage uterine fibroids?

The best way to manage fibroids before, during, and after pregnancy will vary from person to person. This will depend partly on fibroid size and location and if the condition affects your quality of life or pregnancy.

You might need to see a fertility specialist if you’re having trouble getting pregnant because of fibroids. You may also need to see an obstetrician specializing in high risk pregnancies because of potential fibroid problems during pregnancy.

If your uterine fibroids are not causing symptoms, your doctor may recommend Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source a watch-and-wait approach. If you’re experiencing symptoms, treatment may include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain
  • hormonal contraceptives to manage uterine bleeding
  • gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which decrease the production of hormones that may contribute to fibroid growth
  • certain surgical procedures, including:
    • endometrial ablation, which involves removing a layer of the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus
    • uterine artery embolization, which lowers the supply of blood to the uterus and reduces bleeding
    • myomectomy, a procedure that removes the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact
    • hysterectomy, which removes part or all of the uterus

Some procedures can affect fertility, so talk with your doctor about your treatment options.

Learn 7 things to know about uterine fibroids.

Summary

Uterine fibroids are common and may cause fertility, pregnancy, or delivery issues. Doctors may recommend medications or surgery to treat symptomatic uterine fibroids.

Talk with your doctor about your treatment options and their impact on fertility or pregnancy.

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Medical Reviewer: Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Last Review Date: 2023 Aug 12
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