The impact of fibroids on pregnancy, fertility and miscarriage

Fibroids are noncancerous growths in or on your womb and are very common. They rarely cause noticeable symptoms but can affect your fertility. 

If you have fibroids while you are pregnant, they can sometimes affect the development of your baby or cause complications during childbirth. However, most women with fibroids will have normal pregnancies. 

The prevalence of fibroids during pregnancy is most likely higher than reported numbers as fibroids are difficult to detect during pregnancy because the womb muscles thicken during this time. 

Fibroids and fertility

Is it safe to get pregnant with fibroids?

Most women with fibroids can become pregnant naturally without treatment. However, in some cases, fibroids do reduce fertility, which makes becoming pregnant more difficult. But there are also many other reasons, aside from fibroids, for infertility

The risk of infertility or miscarriage increases, in particular, with submucosal fibroids. These fibroids bulge into the womb cavity. 

Can having fibroids prevent pregnancy?

In some cases, fibroids can prevent a fertilised egg attaching to the womb lining (implantation) or prevent sperm reaching the egg.

With submucosal fibroids, which grow from the womb muscle wall into the womb cavity, sperm can fail to reach the egg as the fibroid can block a fallopian tube.

Fibroids and IVF treatment

As fibroids are very common, women having in vitro fertilisation (IVF) often have fibroids. Submucosal fibroids can reduce the chances of IVF working and it is recommended that they are removed before IVF begins.

How can I get pregnant with fibroids?

Having fibroids doesn’t always reduce your fertility — this will depend on the size and position of your fibroids. To find out if your fibroids will reduce your chances of becoming pregnant or cause complications with your pregnancy, talk to your doctor. They may recommend fibroid treatments to improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Problems with fibroids and pregnancy

Having fibroids while pregnant can cause abdominal pain and increase the risk of premature labour. 

In rare cases, fibroids can cause miscarriage ie loss of pregnancy in the first 23 weeks. 

Problems with fibroids during the first trimester

Fibroids need the hormone oestrogen to grow. However, despite oestrogen levels increasing dramatically during pregnancy, most fibroids do not grow during pregnancy. In the minority of cases where fibroids do grow during pregnancy, this is usually limited to the first 12 weeks (first trimester).

The main problems that fibroids cause during the first trimester are bleeding and/or pain, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage.

Problems with fibroids during the second and third trimesters

As your pregnancy progresses, your womb will expand to accommodate your growing baby. Your womb may therefore push against your fibroids causing: 

  • Cramping and discomfort if your fibroids become twisted
  • Pain, particularly if your fibroids are large — paracetamol can help ease your pain; do not take ibuprofen as it can affect your baby’s development, reduce the amount of amniotic fluid in your amniotic sac and cause miscarriage 
  • Red degeneration where your fibroid outgrows its blood supply and the fibroid tissue dies — this is less common but can cause severe pain and miscarriage

Placental abruption

Placental abruption is more common in pregnant women with fibroids. It occurs when your placenta comes away from your womb wall before childbirth.

Placental abruption needs immediate medical attention as it prevents your baby getting enough oxygen and causes you to bleed heavily; you may go into shock.

Premature delivery

Premature delivery refers to delivery of your baby before 37 weeks. It is more common in women with fibroids.

Fibroids and labour

If you have large fibroids that block your vagina, you may need to have a caesarean section (C-section) to deliver your baby. This involves making a cut through your abdomen and womb to remove your baby. 

A C-section may also be recommended if your doctor is concerned that your fibroids will prevent your womb contracting after birth. 

Fibroids after delivery

Your fibroids may shrink after pregnancy.

Fibroids and pregnancy FAQs

Can fibroids affect pregnancy?

Most women with fibroids will have normal pregnancies. However, depending on the size and position of the fibroids, in some women, there is an increased risk of complications, such as pain, bleeding, placental abruption and miscarriage. 

Can fibroids cause ectopic pregnancy?

If your fibroids narrow your fallopian tubes, this can disrupt the transportation of eggs, which increases the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. 

Can a pregnant woman with fibroids have a normal delivery?

Yes, a pregnant woman with fibroids can have a normal vaginal delivery. However, if you have very large fibroids that are blocking your vagina, your doctor may recommend a caesarean section. 

Can I get pregnant with a submucosal fibroid?

Yes, you can get pregnant with a submucosal fibroid. However, it does reduce your chances of becoming pregnant, particularly if the fibroid blocks a fallopian tube. 

Can submucosal fibroids cause miscarriage?

Submucosal fibroids can increase the risk of miscarriage. 

Can fibroids affect pregnancy test results?

No, fibroids do not affect pregnancy test results. However, fibroids can reduce your fertility and cause complications during pregnancy. 

Do fibroids cause bleeding during pregnancy?

Yes, depending on the size and position of your fibroids, they can cause bleeding during pregnancy. 

Please note that not all Spire hospitals have a fertility department. 

We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.

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Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.

The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor

Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.