Many factors can affect one’s fertility and ability to conceive a baby, with one of the most common being uterine fibroids or simply fibroids. These benign, non-cancerous smooth muscle cell tumours typically affect 30% of women of reproductive age, yet only one in four will experience symptoms.
Fibroids develop in the muscle tissues of the uterus. Women generally have more than one fibroid that varies in size and location, and these tumours can change the shape and size of their uterus and affect the cervix. The size and location of these fibroids are often the determining factor as to whether you will experience symptoms or infertility.
The following are three main types of fibroids based on their location:
- Intramural – occurs in the outer walls of the uterus
- Subserosal – can be found in the uterine wall’s muscle layers
- Submucosal – commonly protrudes into the uterine cavity
It remains unclear how fibroids develop, but it is believed that hormones, genetics, and environmental factors all play a role in their formation. Fertility specialists in Singapore have several ways to check whether you have fibroids and determine their number, size, and location, namely:
- Ultrasound: Although effective at identifying smaller fibroids, it is not the best option for detecting multiple fibroids.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRI is the most expensive yet reliable solution for identifying fibroids and their exact location.
- Hysterosalpingography: This test uses an X-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes to detect uterine fibroids save for submucosal fibroids.
- Hysterosonography: Your healthcare provider injects specialised and sterile fluid into the uterine cavity to accurately identify submucosal fibroids.
Can Fibroids Cause Infertility?
Unfortunately, there is no quick answer to this question, as it is a rather complex issue. According to estimates, around 5 to 10% of women with infertility problems have fibroids, and it is the size and location of these tumours that causes the issue. For instance, very large fibroids—typically six centimetres or larger in diameter—located within the uterine cavity are most likely to affect fertility.
Studies also show that cases of submucosal fibroids protruding into the uterus are likely to affect fertility. However, there are exceptions to this, such as fibroids that grow large enough to the point that they effectively block the openings of the fallopian tubes into the uterus.
All in all, most women who have fibroids will unlikely face any sort of infertility problems. If they do, it is best to rule out any other factors first before seeking infertility treatment in Singapore for their fibroids. Consulting a fertility specialist is the best way to assess whether your fibroids are truly the issue or whether any treatment is needed.
How Does Fibroids Impact Fertility?
Fibroids can cause infertility in many ways, depending on how their size and location change your cervix, fallopian tubes, or uterus. Some examples include:
- Affects the thickness of the uterine lining.
- Change the shape of the cervix and reduce the number of sperm that can pass into the uterus.
- Change the shape of the uterus such that movement of the embryo or sperm is disrupted.
- Interfere with the blood flow to the uterine, which decreases the embryo’s ability to develop or implant in the uterine wall.
Will Fibroids Treatment Help Improve Your Fertility?
When getting treatment for fibroids, your fertility specialist will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on your unique situation, such as the severity of your symptoms and if there are other factors contributing to your infertility. Although there are now many different treatment options for fibroids, only minimally invasive surgery can eliminate any type of fibroid for good.
That said, it is important to note the possibility of new fibroids developing after treatment. When choosing other treatments that use medications, embolisation, ultrasound, or electrical energy, it is best to be aware that they just make fibroids smaller, and their effects are temporary.
Last but not least, there is ongoing disagreement about whether the treatments mentioned will improve your fertility. Hence, if your main goal is to improve your fertility rather than relieve symptoms, the latest research only supports treating submucosal fibroids as the proven way of increasing pregnancy and live birth rates. Research is insubstantial and does not support treatment for other types of fibroids based upon comparing pregnancy outcomes for women getting treatment and those who aren’t.
Uterine fibroids are common non-cancerous tumours that can have a negative impact on fertility, and treating them is determined on a case-by-case basis according to the severity of the symptoms and your fertility specialist’s recommendations.
If you suspect that fibroids are causing your infertility or gynecological problems, reach out to a fertility expert today at The O&G Specialist Clinic to make sure. Our experienced infertility doctors – Dr Loh and Dr Tung – will determine if fibroids are truly what is inhibiting your ability to conceive and provide the appropriate treatment you need.
To learn more about our obstetric, gynecologic, and infertility management services, feel free to contact us or schedule a virtual consultation here at any time.