Fibroids & The Growing Fetus

Even if a woman has uterine fibroids, there is a strong chance she will be able to carry a pregnancy to term and delivery a healthy baby. Having fibroids definitely puts a woman into a higher risk category, but with the proper medical care, lots of rest and proper self-care, a woman with fibroid tumors has a better chance of completing a pregnancy than ever.

Everything Was Under Control Until I Got Pregnant!

Fibroid tumors can be present in a woman's uterus and the symptoms may be minimal. They may be microscopic or small, yet, when the woman becomes pregnant, the fibroids can enlarge rapidly, especially early on, and they cause severe pain. Sometimes hospitalization is necessary to address the effects of fibroids in pregnancy. Even though these things can happen, overall, fibroids do not usually cause many problems during pregnancy.

Managing The Symptoms Until the Pregnancy Is Finished

Dr. Bobbie Gostout, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says that fibroids infrequently cause difficulty with conception. "During pregnancy, fibroids are not treated," she explained. "We simply try to manage the symptoms in a woman who wishes to preserve fertility." After pregnancy, she said the fibroids could be removed surgically through a myomectomy.

She adds that although there are other forms of treatment which carry a lot of hope and appear promising, their application has been mainly to large groups of women who no longer want to have children. Therefore, the effects of these new therapies are unknown when it comes to women who still want to have babies.

Fibroids Can Skew Fetal Information

Dr. Pedro Arrabal, MD, a Baltimore OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist, explains that as a woman's estrogen levels significantly rise during the early stages of her pregnancy, fibroids can grow to ten times their size or even more. The traditional method of measuring a woman's abdomen to determine the size of her baby is thrown off by the presence and size of the fibroids. Thanks to modern medical advances, the baby and the fibroids can be monitored separately and ultrasound scans can tell the doctor the baby's size as well as the location of the fibroids.

The Potential For Complications

While the odds are favorable, there is still potential for complications and it is important for a woman to be aware of those facts. An obstructed birth canal may necessitate a caesarean section, or there may be preterm contractions and labor. In a small number of cases, the fibroid forms under the placenta, causing it to separate from the uterus, which can result in a woman hemorrhaging or having a stillbirth. There is also the potential of a miscarriage in the first trimester.

Dr. Gostout says that about 20 percent of women in their twenties and about 30 percent of women in their thirties have fibroids. In the majority of cases, they are small and asymptomatic. "The actual odds of fibroid-related problems in pregnancy are unknown," she adds.

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