Fibroids are tumours/masses that grow from the muscular wall of the womb. They are usually benign (i.e. they are not cancers). They affect between 40-60% of women by age 35%.
Can fibroids affect my fertility?
For the vast majority of cases, women with fibroids can still get pregnant normally. However, in rare cases, a particular type of fibroid( submucosal, which grows from the wall into the womb cavity) can cause infertility and/or miscarriage.
Can having a fibroid affect my pregnancy?
Most women would not have any symptoms due to fibroids during pregnancy. However, your doctor would be on high alert for some risks that may arise during the pregnancy:
Intra-uterine Growth Restrictions:
Very large fibroids may take up womb space and not allow your baby to grow optimally.
Carrying very large fibroids and a growing baby may over-stress the uterus, leading to a miscarriage or premature delivery.
Fibroids may lead to a premature release of the placenta from the wall of the womb. This means oxygen supply to the baby would be greatly reduced and there is an increased risk of heavy bleeding
A breech presentation occurs when a baby is positioned with its legs towards the vagina instead of head down. In this case, depending on the type of breech, the doctor may suggest a caesarean section instead of vaginal delivery.
Am I at any risk?
This may occur during pregnancy or after delivery. Fibroids may cause bleeding directly or due to the issue with the placenta mentioned above. It”s important to note that this is not a menstrual period. The presence of fibroid in the muscle of the womb may prevent the womb from contracting fully to close off the bed where the placenta came off of in the lining of the womb. Your health care team can take extra precautions to avoid this by some manoeuvres or giving you some medication to support your wombs contracts.
Fibroids can degenerate. A process called red degeneration. This can be extremely painful and require a hospital admission for pain relief and fluids. Fibroids with stalks found on the outer surface of the womb can twist on themselves. This can also be a source of pain.
Fibroids may disrupt the normal muscular structure of the uterus. This can lead to poor contractions and not being able to reach full dilatation. If the cervix is not fully dilated, or labour takes longer than usual, a caesarean section may be necessary to deliver the baby.
If the uterus is not able to fully contract after the baby is born, there is a very high chance of heavy bleeding and this is a medical emergency.
Fibroids are pretty common amongst women of the black race. During pregnancies, they could be quiet or have effects ranging from minor discomforts to serious complications. Either way, with an experienced medical team, especially in Nigeria where it is fairly common, you will be fine.