Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors. They are made of smooth muscle cells that grow in the uterus or get attached to the uterine wall. Uterine fibroids are also known as “leiomyomas” or “myomas”, and are linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer. However, they almost never develop into cancer.
Fibroids range in size. Uterus fibroids can be as small as a seedling to bulky masses which can distort and even enlarge the whole uterus. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can develop and expand the uterus to such an extent that it reaches the rib cage. It can even add to the weight.
A female can have a single or multiple fibroids.
Many females have uterine fibroids. In India itself, there are approximately 1 million cases of females suffering from uterine fibroids each year. But most of the patients don’t know they have uterine fibroids. It is because the fibroids often cause no symptoms. The doctor usually discovers fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or an ultrasound.
Fibroids can lead to strong abdominal pain, heavy flow during menstruation, pelvic pain, frequent urge to urinate or painful intercourse. Many women with uterine fibroids may not have any of the symptoms and only an ultrasound can depict the presence of fibroid.
Types of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids can be classified into different types depending on their location in the uterus: –
- Subserosal fibroids: When fibroids grow on the outer surface of the uterus.
- Submucosal fibroids: When the fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity, below the endometrium.
- Intramural fibroids: When the fibroids grow inside the uterus wall.
- Pedunculated fibroids: When the growth is on small stalks, on the uterine surface or in the uterine cavity.
The location at which a fibroid grows inside the uterus and the size of the fibroid can immensely affect the fertility of a woman. And if the fibroid develops during pregnancy it can lead to complications. Submucosal fibroids, that develops inside the cavity of uterus cause infertility and pregnancy complications. Largely sized fibroids, often more than 5 cm in diameter can severely affect fertility in women.
How fibroids lead to infertility?
Following are the major reasons as to why fibroids lead to infertility in a woman: –
- The presence of fibroids near the cervix can block or reduce the entrance of sperm into the uterus.
- If the egg is fertilized but the growth of fibroids near the opening of the fallopian tube inside the uterine cavity can prevent its implantation into the uterus.
- Submucosal fibroids that develop inside the uterine cavity occupies space in the uterus giving less area to the zygote and interfering with the normal growth of the child.
- Fibroid growth in clusters can disrupt the blood supply to the uterus which can lead to miscarriages in pregnancy as it deploys uterus walls to thicken and sustain a pregnancy.
In general, women having uterine fibroids do not face issues with conceiving. If in case you experience infertility or recurrent miscarriage it is necessary to consult a gynecologist. The doctor will help determine the accurate cause of infertility which may be uterine fibroids.