A Pregnant Question

If you have fibroids and you've become pregnant, you may be wondering just how much of an effect the pregnancy will have on the fibroids' growth and vice versa. But there are no cut and dried answers. In most cases, fibroids won't grow larger during a pregnancy, but when they do, this appears to be due to the particular makeup of the individual fibroids as well as the amount and type of growth factors that exist within the mother's bloodstream.

Growth Spurt

In one study of pregnant women with large fibroids, ultrasound scans showed that 69% of the participants had no increase in uterine fibroid growth during gestation. In the 31% of the participants who did experience a uterine fibroid growth spurt, the occurrences were limited to the first three months of pregnancy. It's important to note that the fibroids shrank subsequent to delivery. 

Fibroids are very common in women in their late 30's and during their 40's. Since women are pushing off having babies until they are older, fibroids are beginning to be a primary cause of fertility issues as well as being sometimes problematic once conception has occurred. But most women with fibroids who do become pregnant will find they weather pregnancy and delivery with no problems at all. Research has thus far failed to find definitive proof that fibroids bring on birth defects, premature labor, or delivery. Still, it has been demonstrated that the risk that a woman will need a c-section is much greater in women who have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids.

Rapid Growth

During pregnancy, the placenta begins to produce a great deal of the female hormones that stimulate the growth of fibroids that may already be present. In a few cases, the fibroids have such a rapid growth spurt that the blood vessels aren't capable of delivering sufficient oxygen to the fibroid tissues. This will cause the cells of the fibroids to degenerate. The process of degeneration may cause a great deal of pain, but takes little time to resolve. There is no treatment necessary for this process and no harm whatsoever is caused to the developing fetus.

As the fibroid degenerates, there are sometimes accompanying mild contractions, but these tends to pass without becoming true labor. While the outcome is almost always a good one in the case of fibroid degeneration, a pregnant woman with fibroids should make sure to call her doctor if she suspects she is having contractions or feels any new or unusual pain.  In most cases, all that is required are pain killers, applied heat, and bed rest. But sometimes, a physician will choose to treat the contractions with medications that can stop them.

In rare cases, a fibroid may choose to grow in close proximity to the opening of the uterus (cervix). If the fibroid is a large one, it may end up creating an obstacle to the baby as it tries to exit the birth canal. If the baby seems to be having a hard time coming out of the birth canal, an ultrasound may be performed. If it is determined that a fibroid is blocking the way, the doctors may be forced to perform a C-section.

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