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Uterine fibroids are growths that can develop inside the womb. They are almost never cancerous, but they can still cause medical complications. Is infertility one of them?

What are uterine fibroids?

In short, uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that grow inside the uterus. These growths are almost always benign, but a cancerous uterine fibroid does come along once in a blue moon. Fibroids can be really small or bigger than an apple, and women can have only one or a whole "forest" of uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids can appear anywhere around on the uterus within the uterine cavity, but within the muscular structures of the uterus, and even on its outside, too. Fibroids are actually very common 20 to 80 percent of women will have fibroids at some point. They are more likely to strike women in their 40s and 50s than they are to appear in younger women, but women in their 20s and 30s are certainly not immune.

How do you know if you have fibroids?

Risk factors are being older than 40, being African American, having a family history of uterine fibroids, being obese, and eating large amounts of red meat. Not everyone with fibroids have symptoms. Those who do have physical signs that something could be wrong may be experiencing heavy and painful periods, pressure in the uterus, abdominal bloating, and pain during sex or other strenuous physical activities. When a fibroid presses on the bladder, a woman will also need to use the bathroom much more frequently. Women who have any of these symptoms should definitely go and see their healthcare provider. The unfortunate thing is that many reproductive conditions have similar symptoms, and you can't make deduct that you must have fibroids if you have every symptom on the list. Endometriosis and chlamydia are two other conditions that can have much the same symptoms, and these are only the first ones that come to my mind. The message is clear see your doctor, and find out whether you have fibroids or any other problem. The diagnostic process may involve ultrasound, x-ray, an MRI scan, or laparoscopy. You and your doctor will discuss the best option or options in your situation. A combination of these methods may be needed to make a definite diagnosis.

Uterine fibroids and fertility

Can uterine fibroids cause infertility? That's a question you will really want an answer to if you have already been diagnosed with them, and also if have been trying to get pregnant without success for a while and you are wondering why. Some evidence suggests that women who have uterine fibroids are less likely to get pregnant. This is because fibroids can block the opening to the fallopian tube or the cervix, both of which mean that sperm and egg can't meet. It's also known that women who have uterine fibroids have lower fertility treatment success rates. Perhaps that is the body's defensive mechanism kicking in, because uterine fibroids during pregnancy are linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, both in the first and second trimesters.

What's more, women who have fibroids can also lead to premature labor. Have you got fibroids? Don't worry just yet, because research suggests that only three percent of women with fibroids is infertile because of them, and many women who are pregnant with fibroids have no problems at all. If you have fibroids and are trying to conceive without success, don't assume your fibroids are responsible. Do consult your doctor about your situation and discuss the possible removal of your fibroids. Having surgery doesn't mean your fibroids never come back, or that your chances of getting pregnant increase. Be prepared to be tested for other causes of infertility as well, and don't forget that your partner could also be infertile.

Pregnant when you have fibroids

Most pregnant women who have fibroids have successful, uncomplicated pregnancies. Your healthcare provider should monitor the situation inside your uterus. Sometimes, fibroids during pregnancy cause pain. If that is the case for you, ask your doctor about pain relief options that are safe for pregnant women. Also be aware that fibroids can, sometimes, become a problem during labor and delivery. There is a small chance that you will need a cesarean section to facilitate the birth of your baby if you suffer from fibroids.

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