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Archive for the ‘fibroids and fertility’ tag

Fibroids and Fertility

By David Kreiner MD

February 24th, 2015 at 6:59 am

 

photo courtesy of dream designs/freedigitalphotos.net


Fertility is dependent upon so many things!

We must have healthy gametes (eggs and sperm) capable of fertilizing and implanting in a uterus with a normal endometrial lining unimpeded by any uterine or endometrial pathology. The sperm need be in sufficient number and capable of swimming up through a cervix which is not inflamed and provides a mucous medium that promotes sperm motility. The eggs need to ovulate and be picked up by normal healthy fimbriated ends (finger like projections) of the fallopian tubes. The tubes need to be covered with normal micro hairs called cilia that help transport the egg one third of the way down the tube where one of the sperm will fertilize it.

The united egg and sperm (the “conceptus”) then needs to undergo cell division, growth and development as it traverses the tube and makes its way to the uterine cavity by the embryo’s fifth day of life at which point it is a blastocyst. The blastocyst hatches out of its shell (“zona pellucidum”) and implants into the endometrial lining requiring adequate blood flow.

And you wonder why getting pregnant is so hard?

All too often patients, in some groups as many as 30% of women, are told that they have fibroids that may be contributing to their infertility. Fibroids or leiomyomata are non malignant smooth muscle tumors of the uterus. They can vary in number, size and location in the uterus including; the outside facing the pelvic cavity (subserosal), the inside facing the uterine cavity (submucosal) and in between inside the uterine wall (intramural). Fortunately, most fibroids have minimal or no effect on fertility and may be ignored.

The subserosal myoma will rarely cause fertility issues. If it were distorting the tubo- ovarian anatomy so that eggs could not get picked up by the fimbria then it can cause infertility. Otherwise, the subserosal fibroid does not cause problems conceiving.

Occasionally, an intramural myoma may obstruct adequate blood flow to the endometrial lining. The likelihood of this being significant increases with the number and size of the fibroids. The more space occupied by the fibroids, the greater the likelihood of intruding on blood vessels traveling to the endometrium. Diminished blood flow to the uterine lining can prevent implantation or increase the risk of miscarriage. Surgery may be recommended when it is feared that the number and size of fibroids is great enough to have such an impact.
However, it is the submucosal myoma, inside the uterine cavity, that can irritate the endometrium and have the greatest effect on the implanting embryo.

To determine if your fertility is being hindered by these growths you may have a hydrosonogram. A hydrosonogram is a procedure where your doctor or a radiologist injects water through your cervix while performing a transvaginal ultrasound of your uterus. On the ultrasound, the water shows up as black against a white endometrial border. A defect in the smooth edges of the uterine cavity caused by an endometrial polyp or fibroid may be easily seen.

Submucosal as well as intramural myomata can also cause abnormal vaginal bleeding and occasionally cramping. Intramural myomata will usually cause heavy but regular menses that can create fairly severe anemias. Submucosal myomata can cause bleeding throughout the cycle.

Though these submucosal fibroids are almost always benign they need to be removed to allow implantation. A submucosal myoma may be removed by hysteroscopy through cutting, chopping or vaporizing the tissue. A hysteroscopy is performed vaginally, while a patient is asleep under anesthesia. A scope is placed through the cervix into the uterus in order to look inside the uterine cavity. This procedure can be performed as an outpatient in an ambulatory or office based surgery unit. The risk of bleeding, infection or injury to the uterus or pelvic organs is small.

Resection of the submucosal myoma can be difficult especially when the fibroid is large and can sometimes take longer than is safe to be performed in a single procedure. It is not uncommon that when the fibroid is large, it will take multiple procedures in order to remove the fibroid in its entirety. It will be necessary to repeat the hydrosonogram after the fibroid resection to make sure the cavity is satisfactory for implantation.

The good news is, when no other causes of infertility are found, removal of a submucosal fibroid is often successful in allowing conception to occur naturally or at least with assisted reproduction.

 

* * * * * ** * * ** * *

Anyone have a fibroid story to share?

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/female-reproductive-system-photo-p284491

 

 

 

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Negative Pregnancy Test Again! Now What?!

By David Kreiner MD

November 30th, 2014 at 9:51 am

 

credit: davidcastillodominici/ freedigitlaphotos.net


Women confronted with a negative result from a pregnancy test are always disappointed, sometimes devastated. Many admit to becoming depressed and finding it hard to associate with people and go places where there are pregnant women or babies, making social situations extremely uncomfortable. A negative test is a reminder of all those feelings of emptiness, sadness and grief over the void infertility creates.

We don’t have control over these feelings and emotions. They affect our whole being and, unchecked, will continue until they have caused a complete state of depression. This article can arm you with a strategy to fight the potentially damaging effects that infertility threatens to do to you and your life.

First, upon seeing or hearing that gut-wrenching news, breathe.
Meditation — by controlling and focusing on your breathing — can help you gain control of your emotions and calm your body, slow down your heart rate and let you focus rationally on the issues. It’s best to have your partner or a special someone by your side who can help you to calm down and regain control.

Second, put this trauma into perspective.
It doesn’t always help to hear that someone else is suffering worse — whether it’s earthquake or cancer victims — but knowledge that fertile couples only conceive 20% of the time every month means that you are in good company with plenty of future moms and dads.

Third, seek help from a specialist, a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).
An RE has seven years of post-graduate training with much of it spent helping patients with the same problem you have. An RE will seek to establish a diagnosis and offer you an option of treatments. He will work with you to develop a plan to support your therapy based on your diagnosis, age, years of infertility, motivation, as well your financial and emotional means. If you are already under an RE’s care, the third step becomes developing a plan with your RE or evaluating your current plan.

Understand your odds of success per cycle are important for your treatment regimen. You want to establish why a past cycle may not have worked. It is the RE’s job to offer recommendations either for continuing the present course of therapy — explaining the odds of success, cost and risks — or for alternative more aggressive and successful treatments (again offering his opinion regarding the success, costs and risks of the other therapies).

Therapies may be surgical, such as laparoscopy or hysteroscopy to remove endometriosis, scar tissue, repair fallopian tubes or remove fibroids. They may be medical, such as using ovulation inducing agents like clomid or gonadotropin injections. They may include intrauterine insemination (IUI) with or without medications. They also may include minimal stimulation IVF or full-stimulated IVF. Age, duration of infertility, your diagnosis, ovarian condition, and financial and emotional means play a large role in determining this plan that the RE must make with your input.

There may be further diagnostic tests that may prove value in ascertaining your diagnosis and facilitate your treatment. These include a hysteroscopy or hydrosonogram to evaluate the uterine cavity, as well as the HSG (hysterosalpingogram) to evaluate the patency of the fallopian tubes as well as the uterine cavity.

Complementary therapies offer additional success potential by improving the health and wellness of an individual and, therefore, her fertility as well. These therapies — acupuncture, massage, nutrition, psychological mind and body programs, hypnotherapy –
have been associated with improved pregnancy rates seen when used as an adjunct to assisted reproductive technologies.

A negative pregnancy test can throw you off balance, out of your routine and depress you. Use my plan here to take control and not just improve your mood and life but increase the likelihood that your next test will be a positive one.

* * * * * * * *

What have you done to get through the disappointment?

 

photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/CouplesPartners_g216-Depressed_Young_Couple_p104407.html

 

 

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Fibroids and Fertility

By David Kreiner MD

December 13th, 2013 at 9:13 am

 

 

 

Fertility is dependent upon so many things!

We must have healthy gametes (eggs and sperm) capable of fertilizing and implanting in a uterus with a normal endometrial lining unimpeded by any uterine or endometrial pathology. The sperm need be in sufficient number and capable of swimming up through a cervix which is not inflamed and provides a mucous medium that promotes sperm motility. The eggs need to ovulate and be picked up by normal healthy fimbriated ends (finger like projections) of the fallopian tubes. The tubes need to be covered with normal micro hairs called cilia that help transport the egg one third of the way down the tube where one of the sperm will fertilize it.

The united egg and sperm (the “conceptus”) then needs to undergo cell division, growth and development as it traverses the tube and makes its way to the uterine cavity by the embryo’s fifth day of life at which point it is a blastocyst. The blastocyst hatches out of its shell (“zona pellucidum”) and implants into the endometrial lining requiring adequate blood flow.

And you wonder why getting pregnant is so hard?

All too often patients, in some groups as many as 30% of women, are told that they have fibroids that may be contributing to their infertility. Fibroids or leiomyomata are non malignant smooth muscle tumors of the uterus. They can vary in number, size and location in the uterus including; the outside facing the pelvic cavity (subserosal), the inside facing the uterine cavity (submucosal) and in between inside the uterine wall (intramural). Fortunately, most fibroids have minimal or no effect on fertility and may be ignored.

The subserosal myoma will rarely cause fertility issues. If it were distorting the tubo- ovarian anatomy so that eggs could not get picked up by the fimbria then it can cause infertility. Otherwise, the subserosal fibroid does not cause problems conceiving.

Occasionally, an intramural myoma may obstruct adequate blood flow to the endometrial lining. The likelihood of this being significant increases with the number and size of the fibroids. The more space occupied by the fibroids, the greater the likelihood of intruding on blood vessels traveling to the endometrium. Diminished blood flow to the uterine lining can prevent implantation or increase the risk of miscarriage. Surgery may be recommended when it is feared that the number and size of fibroids is great enough to have such an impact.
However, it is the submucosal myoma, inside the uterine cavity, that can irritate the endometrium and have the greatest effect on the implanting embryo.

To determine if your fertility is being hindered by these growths you may have a hydrosonogram. A hydrosonogram is a procedure where your doctor or a radiologist injects water through your cervix while performing a transvaginal ultrasound of your uterus. On the ultrasound, the water shows up as black against a white endometrial border. A defect in the smooth edges of the uterine cavity caused by an endometrial polyp or fibroid may be easily seen.

Submucosal as well as intramural myomata can also cause abnormal vaginal bleeding and occasionally cramping. Intramural myomata will usually cause heavy but regular menses that can create fairly severe anemias. Submucosal myomata can cause bleeding throughout the cycle.

Though these submucosal fibroids are almost always benign they need to be removed to allow implantation. A submucosal myoma may be removed by hysteroscopy through cutting, chopping or vaporizing the tissue. A hysteroscopy is performed vaginally, while a patient is asleep under anesthesia. A scope is placed through the cervix into the uterus in order to look inside the uterine cavity. This procedure can be performed as an outpatient in an ambulatory or office based surgery unit. The risk of bleeding, infection or injury to the uterus or pelvic organs is small.

Resection of the submucosal myoma can be difficult especially when the fibroid is large and can sometimes take longer than is safe to be performed in a single procedure. It is not uncommon that when the fibroid is large, it will take multiple procedures in order to remove the fibroid in its entirety. It will be necessary to repeat the hydrosonogram after the fibroid resection to make sure the cavity is satisfactory for implantation.

The good news is, when no other causes of infertility are found, removal of a submucosal fibroid is often successful in allowing conception to occur naturally or at least with assisted reproduction.

* * * * * ** * * ** * *

Anyone have a fibroid story to share?

Photo credit: public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fibroids.jpg

 

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Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 7 Are Fibroids and Polyps Preventing You From Getting Pregnant?

By David Kreiner, MD

March 26th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Seven: Are Fibroids and Polyps Preventing You From Getting Pregnant? You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=52

 

Are Fibroids And Polyps Preventing You From Getting Pregnant?

Fibroids, also known as myomata, are benign smooth muscle tumors of the uterus.   Most are located in the muscle wall and become clinically significant if they invade the uterine cavity or take up so much space in the uterine wall that they may distort the uterine cavity, obstruct the blood vessels serving the endometrial lining or even block the fallopian tubes.   Fibroids may also extend outside the uterine surface, subserosal or pedunculated when connected to the uterus by a stalk.  These tend to be clinically significant only when they affect the fallopian tubes from picking up the eggs.  Fibroids growing into the uterine cavity are called submucosal myomata and these have the greatest impact on implantation and fertility.

The diagnosis of fibroids may be suspected at a bimanual examination of the uterus or a hysterosalpingogram but ultrasound and MRI are the best diagnostic modalities to evaluate the extent of the fibroids.  A hydrosonogram where water is injected into the uterine cavity allows delineation of the myoma or, for that matter, polyps (endometrial growths).  Further examination of the uterine cavity is performed at a hysteroscopy when the myoma or polyp may be excised.

There remains controversy regarding the indication to surgically remove intramural fibroids or those that reside within the uterine wall and not significantly affecting the uterine cavity.   Some specialists believe that intramural fibroids greater than 3 cm are more likely to affect fertility and recommend surgery for these.  Others have a larger threshold or smaller if there are numerous myomata or they cause tubal obstruction.

Polyps like submucosal fibroids are thought to effect implantation and it is therefore recommended they be removed when trying to conceive.  Patients with a history of anovulation and unopposed estrogen are more likely to have hyperplastic endometrium which can include polyps.  Rarely, in these cases they can be neoplastic and need to be removed and examined by a pathologist.

Examination of the uterine cavity is essential prior to performing an IVF procedure to ensure the optimal result for patients.

* * * * * * **  * * * *

Was this helpful in answering your questions about the effects of fibroids and polyps on TTC?

 

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions of Dr. Kreiner.

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