Essentially, fibroids–also known as myoma–are benign, non-cancerous tumours that appear in the uterus or the womb. They are responsive to hormones and tend to grow as estrogen levels increase. Research shows that an average of 45% of women over 30 years of age experience fibroids. AS one of the most common conditions women go through, what should they expect when this happens during pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, you will experience extreme hormonal change, which will further encourage fibroids to develop. Although many expectant mothers who have fibroids tend to have a normal pregnancy, the situation may become complicated depending on the size and the location of the tumours.
Different Types of Fibroids
There are three types of fibroids that come in different sizes and are located in different areas.
- Subserosal fibroids
This is the most common type of fibroids. They grow outside the uterus wall, which in turn does not affect fertility. Likewise, they don’t cause any complications during pregnancy.
- Intramural fibroids
This is the type of fibroids found within the womb’s wall. Unlike subserosal fibroids, intramural fibroids can increase the chances of miscarriage and decrease the conception rate.
- Submucosal fibroids
This type of fibroids grows underneath the lining of the uterus and can grow into the cavity of the womb, which can increase rates of complications.
Ways to Detect Fibroids
Although they can be dangerous to your pregnancy, often, fibroids go unnoticed because women it does not always show symptoms. Fortunately, you can determine the presence and severity of fibroids through ultrasound or MRI from any women’s clinic in Singapore.
For those who are symptomatic, one of the main indicators of this condition is heavy bleeding or extended menstruation. Other symptoms include frequent urination, constipation, lower back and abdominal pain, and pain during sex. When symptoms appear, it is crucial that you immediately visit a gynaecologist to have it treated before it causes further complications during pregnancy.
Effects of Fibroids During Pregnancy
Fibroids tend to appear during the first three months of your pregnancy as your body produces the highest oestrogen levels during this time. If you happen to have intramural or submucosal fibroids, you can expect to encounter the following problems in your first trimester:
- Pain and Bleeding: The level of pain depends on the location and the size of the fibroids. As it expands, it will begin to press against the nearest internal organs and cause you discomfort and pain.
When the placenta develops near the fibroids, you can also experience bleeding within the first three months of pregnancy.
- Possible Miscarriage: As the fibroids grow, it affects the placenta’s growth as well as the baby’s, which might inevitably result in a miscarriage.As your womb expands to accommodate your baby’s growth, it will also push against existing tumours lining the uterus. That’s why, if fibroids remain unchecked after the first trimester, it can cause even more problems during your second and third trimesters, including:
- Cramping: As fibroids tend to twist as they grow, expect increased levels of pain and cramping during this time. Other times, fibroids go through a process called red degeneration, in which they outgrow their supply of blood and die. In such cases, women will experience severe abdominal pain.
- Placental Disruption: Your tumours can misplace or disrupt the placenta, tearing it away from the uterus lining before the child’s birth. This is a dangerous matter because the placenta provides oxygen to your baby. When it’s disrupted, oxygen levels may decrease, leading to possible miscarriage and heavy bleeding.
- Preterm Delivery: The typical duration before delivery averages 37 weeks. However, it can fast-track the process if you have fibroids, and you can go through labour earlier.
- C-Section Delivery: Fibroids impair the contraction of the uterus, which can slow down labour. Additionally, they block the birth canal, which makes it difficult to deliver through natural birth. As such, a C-section delivery is a much safer option for both the mother and the baby.
Treatment for Fibroids
Unless your fibroids result in critical implications during pregnancy, most doctors would want to wait until after delivery to address the problem.
Gynae recommends laparoscopy surgery to treat fibroids as it results in faster recovery time and less postoperative pain. However, due to its complexity and technical difficulty, experts encourage you to visit find gynae who has experience in the procedure.
If you prefer a non-surgical treatment, you can opt for an MRI-Guided ultrasonography (MRgFUS), which makes use of high-frequency ultrasound waves to shrink fibroids. With the help of MRI, the ultrasound can be accurately directed to target urinary tumours, eliminating traces of fibroids.
Although these treatments are effective, the best solution is always prevention. Take precautionary measures by scheduling regular checkups, getting an ultrasound, and consulting with your gynecologist. This way, you can better keep track of your body and prepare for a safe and healthy pregnancy.