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Fibroids and Pregnancy - What You Need to Know

Fibroids and pregnancy, for obvious reasons, don’t seem to be a healthy combination. Fibroids are tumors of the uterine muscle which can be microscopic, but can also grow to the size of a grapefruit, and even larger. The good news is that even if you have fibroids, you can still have a healthy pregnancy, thanks to modern monitoring technology.

Fibroids may be present in the woman’s system already, but once she becomes pregnant and levels of estrogen increases, they can enlarge rapidly, causing severe pain that may even require hospitalization. However, most fibroids do not interfere with carrying a healthy pregnancy, though their growth alongside that of the baby can make a mother appear like she is much further along than she actually is. Fortunately, doctors can track the growth of baby and fibroids separately.

Now, while the odds in general are favorable, fibroids can cause some complications, such as preterm contractions, preterm labor, and blockage of the birth canal, requiring a Cesarean section. In a very small number of cases, the fibroid might cause the placenta to separate from the uterus, provoking a miscarriage, especially in the first trimester.

How do you know if you have fibroids? As many as 20% of women in their 20s and 30% in their 30s have fibroids, but most of these are very small and cause no symptoms. It is unknown how many of these women have fibroid-related problems during their pregnancies. In general, African-American women tend to suffer more from fibroids.

If symptoms do manifest (while not pregnant), these may come in the form of a lump or mass in the lower abdomen, pressure in the pelvis, and an increase in menstrual flow. During pregnancy, the presence of fibroids is usually indicated by a larger-than-normal uterus, pelvic pressure, and preterm labor pains or contractions. Some women experience enough symptoms to warrant bed rest.

What is gratifying to know is that thanks to modern medical technology, having fibroids while pregnant is usually a manageable condition, with fibroids usually able to be removed after the woman has finished having children. Under the care of an experienced doctor, and with the aid of ultrasounds and other technologies, the growth of fibroids can be monitored at every stage, and pain controlled as necessary. It does not mean that your pregnancy will be without risk, but it definitely is a manageable one.

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