Infertility and fibroid are they linked?

IVF Failure Treatment

Fibroids and Infertility

So many different factors can play a role in affecting your ability to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. One potential factor which affects women of reproductive age is uterine fibroids which is a common condition in the reproductive age group.

What are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that occur in the muscle tissue of the uterus. Women usually have more than one fibroid and they vary in size and location; their size is often described by fruit, e.g., the size of a grapefruit. They can change both the size and shape of the uterus and affect the cervix. It is size and location that often affect whether you experience symptoms, experience infertility and need treatment.

There are three major different types of fibroids that differ based on where they are located:

  • Subserosal are in the outer wall of the uterus (55%)
  • Intramural are found in the muscular layers of the uterine wall (40%)
  • Submucosal protrude into the uterine cavity (5%)

Why fibroids develop is still unclear but genetics, hormones, and environmental factors all likely play a role.

The most common way to determine if you have fibroids and assess their size, number, and location is through a physical exam and 2-D ultrasound / 3-D Ultra scan. In some cases, additional imaging tests such as an MRI may be required.

Can Fibroids Cause Infertility?

It’s a complex issue. Estimates suggest that about 5-10% of women facing infertility have fibroids and it is their size and location which may create problems. Fibroids that are very large – greater than 6 centimeters in diameter – and those located inside the uterine cavity are examples of situations where fibroids may affect your ability to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. Studies show that in most cases, it is only submucosal fibroids that protrude into the uterus that may affect fertility. There are exceptions including large fibroids that block the openings of fallopian tubes into the uterus.

How Do Fibroids Cause Infertility?

Uterine fibroids can affect your fertility in several different ways based on how their size and location change your uterus, cervix, or fallopian tubes.

Examples include:
  • Fallopian tubes can be blocked by fibroids which makes it challenging or impossible for a fertilized egg to implant.
  • Changes in the shape of the cervix can affect the number of sperm that can enter the uterus.
  • Changes in the shape of the uterus can interfere with the movement of the sperm or embryo.
  • Fibroids can impact the thickness of the uterine lining
  • Blood flow to the uterine cavity can also be affected which can decrease the ability of an embryo to implant in the uterine wall

Treatment for fibroids is based on your individual, as the severity of your symptoms. There may be other explanations for your infertility. Only surgery can eliminate any fibroid permanently. Other treatments that use ultrasound, electrical energy, embolization, or medications can often make a given fibroid smaller. Furthermore, new fibroids may grow after treatment. There is also disagreement over whether treatment will improve your fertility.

If you are trying to improve your fertility vs. relieving symptoms, research to date only supports treatment for submucosal fibroids as it does result in increased pregnancy and live birth rates.

Research is weak and does not support treatment for other types of fibroids based on comparing outcomes for pregnancy and live birth rates for women receiving treatment and those not receiving treatment.

This is not the end…. we will continue about how IVF can help women with fibroid to achieve pregnancy