Types of Uterine Fibroids and How They Affect Fertility

Apr 28 • 2017

Fibroid tumors are quite common – in fact, around 25% of women will be diagnosed with them, although many won’t experience symptoms. Additionally, there are several different types of uterine fibroids that can impact your body in different ways. We’ve highlighted these types below and identified which risk factors you have the ability to minimize.

Types of Fibroid Tumors

A fibroid is a benign tumor that grows in the uterus. They are sometimes contained inside the walls of the uterus, but can also protrude from the surface. While the exact cause of uterine fibroids has not been identified, it is thought that abnormalities in the blood vessels around the uterus, a malfunction of the gene that controls cell growth, and changes in chemicals that cause tissue growth could be factors.

There are five different types of uterine fibroids:

  • Sumucous fibroid: grows underneath the lining of the uterus
  • Intramural fibroid: grows in the wall of the uterus
  • Intracavitary fibroid: grows inside the uterine cavity
  • Pedunculated fibroid: attached to the uterus by a stalk
  • Subserosal fibroid: grows on the outer surface of the uterus

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Fibroid Tumors

There are several factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids, but not all can be controlled by lifestyle changes. These include:

  • Use of birth control at an early age
  • Having experienced one or more pregnancies in the past
  • Diet with large amounts of red meat
  • African American ethnicity

While some women never experience uterine fibroid symptoms, there are some signs that can be recognized, including:

  • Heavier menstrual bleeding, increased duration of bleeding, or bleeding in between periods
  • Feelings of pressure or fullness in the abdomen
  • Location specific symptoms, like constipation, painful intercourse, or frequent urination
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy complications like difficulties with labor, breeched fetus, water breaking early, or separation of the placenta from the uterine wall

How Fibroids Impact Fertility

While not all uterine fibroids affect fertility, the possibility does exist. This can happen when the fibroid causes compression on the fallopian tubes, making it impossible for the sperm or eggs to pass through. Larger fibroids can also make it a challenge for the fallopian tube to capture eggs due to distortion of the pelvis. For women who have fibroids that protrude into the uterus itself, implantation can also become more difficult.

When it comes to fibroids and fertility, the size and placement of the fibroid is one of the biggest factors that determines whether it will impact a woman’s ability to conceive.

If you’re struggling to get pregnant and have experienced symptoms of infertility, speak with your doctor to determine what next steps are recommended.