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Fibroid Awareness Week 2013

April 16, 2013

Fibroid Awareness Week is April 22-27, so let’s refresh your fibroid IQ.

Fibroids are benign muscle tumors in the uterus. Depending on the size and location of a fibroid, there can be a significant impact on fertility and pregnancy. The three types of uterine fibroids include:

  • Surface fibroids: develop on the outside covering of the uterus
  • Intramural fibroids : develop within the wall of the uterus
  • Submucosal fibroids : develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity

Submucosal fibroids pose the greatest risk to embryo implantation. A submucosal fibroid that pushes into the uterine cavity can cause infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss even if the fibroid is small in size.

Arthur Wisot, M.D. of Reproductive Partners Medical Group in Redondo Beach, CA, says that all women are at risk of developing fibroids. “By age 35, about 35% of women will have fibroids. Most are unimportant and small; most women are not aware they have them and they are more common in African American women. If a woman is seeing a fertility doctor for an evaluation for infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, fibroids are easy to find,” he says.

Fibroids found close to the endometrial lining of the uterus can interrupt blood flow to the uterus, which in turn impacts implantation and healthy pregnancy development. Dr. Wisot explains that fibroids do not have many blood vessels, so they can block nutrition or oxygen from reaching an implanted embryo. “That is why we evaluate the lining of the uterus before IVF during trial transfer. The time you want to find things is before IVF not when you are going through a cycle and find out it isn’t working because you have a fibroid,” Wisot states.

The best ways to screen for fibroids include transvaginal ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram (HSG), and saline sonohysterogram (SHG). Dr. Wisot strongly encourages fertility patients to undergo one of these tests before beginning a fertility treatment cycle. “Time is the most important commodity. [Screening for fibroids] is one thing that can be a shortcut to fertility treatment success,” advises Wisot. Rather than delaying time to treatment or suffering several failed cycles, fertility patients should have a thorough fertility work up to rule out the presence of fibroids.

The treatment of fibroids is usually surgical removal which can be done via hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, or open surgery. The recommended course of treatment depends on the location and size of the fibroid, and recovery time varies from one day to several weeks.

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