Women's  Healthcare Topics is a website about pregnancy and your newborn baby.

Fibroids in Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Location, Size, and the Number of Fibroids is Key

Learn about a fibroid and your pregnancy.

Uterine fibroids, which are benign (non-cancerous) growths in the uterus, occur in 20 to 30 percent of all women in their childbearing years. They are most common in women between 30 and 40 years old, but they can occur at anytime. African-American women are at higher risk for fibroids. Because of their prevalence in women, fibroids are also common in pregnancy.

Fibroids can range in size, shape, and location. They may occur inside your uterus, on the outer surface, or within the uterine wall. Some fibroids can be pea-sized, while others may be as wide as six inches. You may have only one fibroid, or many fibroids in different sizes. Depending on the location, size, and the number of fibroids, they can sometimes cause complications and problems in pregnancy.

Causes of Fibroids in Pregnancy

Experts don't know the exact cause of fibroids, but hormones may a role. During pregnancy, the increase in estrogen and progesterone may promote the growth of fibroids. In addition, the extra blood that flows into the uterus may also cause the fibroids to increase in size. The growth of these fibroids may give you some discomfort, pressure and pain.

Symptoms of Fibroids

A majority of women with uterine fibroids never know they have them. For most women, symptoms are mild or nonexistent. Other women will have symptoms and discomfort. Common symptoms of fibroids include pelvic pain and pressure, bloating, frequent urination, urinary incontinence, and difficulty with bowel movements.

Fibroids and Pregnancy

Fortunately, in most cases, fibroids won't complicate your pregnancy or your delivery. Sometimes fibroids can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and breech birth (a baby born bottom first). In rare cases, a big fibroid can block the cervix (the opening of the womb) and prevent your infant from entering the birth canal. When this occurs, your baby will need to be delivered via c-section. Fortunately, this isn't anything to worry about. A large fibroid is usually pushed away as your uterus enlarges during pregnancy.

In most cases, fibroids don't require medical treatment when you're expecting. If you start to feel any pain or discomfort from your fibroid, your caregiver may ask you to take it easy and rest. The only time that your fibroids may put your pregnancy in danger is if you are experiencing any bleeding, pain, or signs of preterm labor.

In rare circumstances, you may undergo a surgical procedure called myomectomy to remove the fibroid (or fibroids) in pregnancy. After a myomectomy, you may require a cesarean section to deliver your baby.

Like with all other pregnancy symptoms, fibroids will decrease in size after you deliver your baby.

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