Did you know that fibroids are quite common? It is estimated that around 30% of women will develop them at some point in their lives and the majority of women will have them by the time they’re menopausal. You may have also heard that fibroids can rarely lead to a miscarriage, especially if your doctor has told you that your chances of having one are pretty slim. But what does all this mean for you and your situation? Understanding the truth about fibroids and pregnancy can help you feel more confident about your choices moving forward.
Can Fibroids Hide Pregnancy?
Yes, fibroids can hide pregnancy. Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus. Fibroids grow in the uterus and can crowd out the pregnancy by positioning themselves over the egg’s location in the uterus. This makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. Additionally, fibroids can cause contractions that can expel the fertilized egg from the uterus before it can attach to the uterus wall.
How Often Do Fibroids Lead To Miscarriage?
- First things first, pregnancy loss due to fibroids is extremely rare. There are approximately 1 million women in the US who will have a miscarriage and around 10,000 of those are potentially related to fibroids. However, this should not overshadow the fact that fibroids can still cause a miscarriage. It is important to keep in mind that every woman reacts differently and so what might happen for one may not be good for everyone else.
- The symptoms associated with a miscarriage caused by fibroids are all about timing. The most obvious symptom is usually bleeding. The second most noticeable symptom is cramping or period pain that lasts longer than your average menstrual cycle cramps and/or feels different than your typical period pains (deeper). If you experience both of these symptoms, you’re likely to have a miscarriage due to fibroids as they can often occur together (1). While it may seem scary that you may be losing your pregnancy because of something so minor, don’t panic! The bleeding and pain associated with these symptoms are completely normal and completely harmless. For the majority of women, there will be no need for any medical intervention at all! There’s no treatment or cure for a missed miscarriage until the time comes for birth—unless necessary for medical reasons such as an emergency C-section or if an ectopic pregnancy occurs.
- If you’ve decided that you wish to proceed with the pregnancy and find yourself experiencing these symptoms, let your healthcare provider know immediately. The sooner you speak with them, the sooner they can make a plan for you and your baby. As long as they do not see any signs of an ectopic pregnancy (such as abdominal pain), or are seeing something else concerning in regards to your pregnancy, they may be able to confirm their diagnosis of miscarriage due to fibroids and start treating you accordingly!
- Your doctor will likely begin by doing some basic tests on you like a pelvic exam and possibly a blood test or ultrasound if he or she is concerned about any other possibility for why your period is coming early. If it’s determined that there are no signs at all of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, it can then be confirmed with an internal ultrasound that will show whether there are any fibroids present in the uterus or endometrium. It should also be noted that while fibroids may sometimes cause spontaneous miscarriages, nearly half of all diagnosed cases of fibroids-related miscarriages have no symptoms at all.
Why Does A Fibroid Lead To Miscarriage Rarely?
- Some women may not experience any symptoms of a missed miscarriage at all. This is unfortunately true for some women, oftentimes as early in their pregnancy as 6 weeks or less. Symptoms may be present but they simply go away without treatment. It is important to check in with your doctor if you notice anything concerning and to remain on the lookout perhaps for an ectopic pregnancy that can cause a miscarriage. Even though this often occurs, it does not always happen, and if you’ve recently had a pelvic exam and are experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your OBGYN anyways as it could be more serious than any symptoms you’re experiencing!
- Another reason why many women aren’t aware that they are having a miscarriage is: Fibroids often don’t cause any physical symptoms until the time comes for labor or a miscarriage (1). The fibroids themselves are small enough in size to be completely non-visible to the naked eye at first; only when they grow past a certain point do they begin causing pain and complications in addition to bleeding irregularities like spotting and cramping. As long as everything is normal during pregnancy, they will act like regular fibroids until close to term—but sometimes that doesn’t happen so it could be difficult to know what is causing your period/spotting/cramping before it’s too late!
- Approximately half of all miscarriages occur during the first trimester (1). If you are only one to two months into your pregnancy and are experiencing bleeding or spotting, this is a huge sign that something may be wrong. It’s important to contact your OBGYN right away to schedule a sonogram and explore this possibility.
- Fibroids may come loose later in pregnancy or even during labor if the cervix is stretched too thin (1). This will likely not be seamless for many women as fibroids are often quite large, so it would have to have been one of the largest fibroids ever found on modern-day ultrasound equipment—and sometimes they can get even larger!
- Rarely, some fibroids can cause an ectopic pregnancy (1). An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually on or near a fallopian tube by itself. An ectopic pregnancy can be extremely painful and may cause internal bleeding which is sometimes indistinguishable from miscarriage symptoms. Early detection and treatment with fertility drugs may still save the life of both mother and baby but unfortunately, we cannot always predict how far along in their gestation cycles these women will be when having their problems…and there was nothing that she could have done about it anyway!
When Can You Be Certain That A Miscarriage Happened Due To A Fibroid?
- Although fibroids do not cause a miscarriage on their own, they do shrink considerably when being removed from your uterus. If a mother’s uterus is enlarged, chances are she has more than just fibroids.
- If you have bleeding or spotting in addition to cramping, a few days of irregular discharge, or are hemorrhaging at all during regular early pregnancy bleeding periods this is considered a miscarriage and should be investigated by your OBGYN as soon as possible.
- Confirm with your doctor if you aren’t pregnant that it isn’t just your body adjusting to the changes that come with pregnancy—if it is likely you are having menstrual problems due to fibroids that have grown too large for your body or something else entirely!
- If you are experiencing bleeding or spotting, cramping, or irregular discharge several days in a row, you must contact your doctor right away! A sonogram will be needed to check for fibroids and if found, you may need treatment to keep them from coming back.
- If your symptoms are very severe and have lasted for more than a week then it is likely that you had a miscarriage due to uterine fibroids (but it could have been something else as well).
- Be aware that even if you do not experience any bleeding or spotting during those first few months of pregnancy and instead experience significant bleeding after about the sixth month, this can still be just another normal thing that happens with pregnancy! Many women are surprised at the blood loss they see after the initial first-trimester bleed.
The Bottom Line
Fibroids increase your risk of having a miscarriage, but it’s rare for them to be the sole cause of one. If you’ve had a miscarriage, you may worry that your fibroids played a role in it. To be certain, you’ll want to speak to your doctor, keep track of the size and shape of your fibroid, and monitor your bleeding. If your fibroids are putting pressure on your baby, they may be the cause of your miscarriage.