By:  Karen Sullen

It is estimated that 50-80% of the female population in the U.S. suffers with fibroids, a noncancerous mass of compacted muscle and fibrous tissue that grows on the wall (or sometimes on the outside) of the uterus.  It's no wonder that many questions are raised concerning the affect of fibroids during pregnancy.  Can I get pregnant with fibroids?  Will the fibroid tumors harm my baby?  Do they cause complications during delivery?  These are just some of the questions on the forefront of women's minds when it comes to fibroids.  While we don't pretend to have all the answers, here are some answers to these and other common questions concerning fibroids.

Do fibroids increase in size during pregnancy?
Because of pregnancy hormones, it is likely that fibroids will increase in size during pregnancy.  However, for some unknown reasons, fibroids have been known to get smaller in some cases.  

Will they cause problems during my pregnancy?
Most pregnancies remain unaffected by the presence of fibroid tumors.  However, this is largely based on the size and position of the fibroids.  Ranging in size from a small pea to the size of a grapefruit, the fibroid could be growing in an area that blocks the birth canal or become overly large.  Symptoms might include abdominal pain, which occasionally may be accompanied by light vaginal bleeding. The baby is rarely affected unless the bleeding is substantial.

Can a fibroid tumor harm the baby?
Sometimes, women with large or multiple fibroids are concerned that the tumors would "crowd" the baby, taking up precious space within the uterus.  While there is some legitimate concern, your physician would need to evaluate your specific situation.  It is unlikely that the tumors would harm the baby in most cases, even when symptoms are present.  However, with twins or multiple-birth deliveries, close monitoring would be necessary to ensure any issues can be addressed immediately.

Can fibroids cause a miscarriage?
Because the fibroids can cause the baby to be in an abnormal position for delivery, the risk of miscarriage and premature delivery does increase slightly if you have fibroids. 

Will I have to have a C-section?
In very rare cases, a cesarean delivery might be necessary if the fibroids block the cervical opening.

Most women will be relieved to discover that their fibroids may be nothing more than a nuisance during pregnancy.  In moderate cases, the symptoms can be treated with bed rest, ice packs, and medication, depending on your situation.  Always consult your physician regarding your specific needs.