This July is Fibroids Awareness Month so we’re here to break down what uterine fibroids are, and how they can impact pregnancy and fertility.
Being informed and aware of what’s going on in your body is one important step towards empowerment.
What are fibroids?
The Mayo Clinic describes uterine fibroids as “noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.” For the majority of women, fibroids will not significantly impact their pregnancy, or their ability to get pregnant. The overwhelming majority of uterine fibroid cases are not cancerous, and will not increase your risk for cancer.
How common are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are extremely common. It’s estimated that between 20% and 50% of women of reproductive age currently have them, with 77% of women developing them during their childbearing years. Studies show that African American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than white women. Experts are unsure why this is.
What causes fibroids?
It’s not known what causes fibroids. But experts agree that factors such as hormones, family history, and pregnancy play a role.
Fibroids and pregnancy
If you are pregnant and have uterine fibroids, they are not likely to cause problems for you or your baby. In rare cases, fibroids can impact fertility outcomes, but for most women, fibroids will not significantly impact their chances of getting pregnant. Some women may experience fibroid growth during pregnancy. Growth in fibroids may cause feelings of pressure or pain. In some rare cases, a large fibroid could block the birth canal opening, and keep the baby from passing into the birth canal. In a case like this, the baby would be delivered by cesarean section.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
- lower back pain
- pain during sex
- spotting or bleeding
- frequent urination
- abdominal swelling
- Pelvic pressure or pain
Many women with uterine fibroids may experience no symptoms at all.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, or feel like something is abnormal, be sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Being knowledgeable about what is going on in your body is one important step towards personal empowerment. If you have questions about fibroids or your health, please contact your healthcare provider.