Uterine fibroids can cause infertility but for many women with fibroids, they can still get pregnant despite the presence of fibroids which may depend on the location of the fibroids in the uterus. In these women who have fibroids while pregnant, these benign tumors can cause no problems and the baby can be safely delivered. In other women, fibroids may cause problems as the baby grows. One of these issues that fibroid tumors can cause in pregnant women is bleeding.
Slight bleeding or spotting can occur during pregnancy and is usually considered normal especially during the first trimester. Having uterine fibroids however, can increase the risk of bleeding above the norm for many women. In fact, one of the common results of having fibroids while pregnant is some type of bleeding or other.
With any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, it is important to inform your doctor because depending on how far along your pregnancy is, it could be a problem.
When looking at symptomatic fibroids and pregnancy with a focus on bleeding, this bleeding may result from the following;
1. Fibroid Degeneration
While it is more common for fibroids to increase in size by up to five times during pregnancy which can end up crowding the baby severely, in some cases, the fibroid tumor can degenerate during pregnancy which is known as corneous (red) degeneration.
This degeneration occurs when the blood supply to the fibroids that are growing larger no longer have an adequate blood supply to support their growth. Fibroids require a robust blood supply to grow. When the blood supply is insufficient, the tumors can start to die or degenerate. A common symptom of degenerating fibroids is pain. This may be experienced at about 20 weeks of the pregnancy.
Some bleeding may also be one of the signs of degenerating uterine fibroids.
2. Placenta Previa
In a normal pregnancy, the placenta is found at the top of the uterus but when fibroids are present in this location, the placenta may have to find another location to dwell which usually ends up being in the lower part of the uterus that is closer to the cervix. This abnormal location of the placenta may block the entrance to the vagina which is known as placenta previa.
If this occurs, one of the many symptoms besides pain, early contractions, etc, is some light to moderate bleeding. This commonly occurs around the 6 month mark of the pregnancy. This condition may resolve itself without any intervention or you may need medication to stop you from going into early labor, or you may need to be placed on extended bed rest or if severe, a caesarean section may be required.
When considering fibroids and pregnancy as far as bleeding is concerned, you also need to consider what may occur at delivery. While some women may deliver their baby vaginally without any issues despite the presence of fibroid tumors, for many other women, having fibroids can increase the risk of having a C-section. This usually depends on the location of the tumors which can prevent the baby from being delivered vaginally.
In addition, the risk of going into pre-term labor (deliveries at 20 to 36 weeks) is increased if you have fibroids.
In a few other cases, fibroids can increase the risk of having postpartum hemorrhage. This increased risk is due to the presence of fibroids that prevent the uterus from contracting and shutting off the exposed blood vessels that result from the placenta separating itself from the uterine walls after delivery.
This issue may be fixed with a rubdown from your doctor which is a vigorous massage to help the uterus contract and shut off those blood vessels. A drug may also be administered to stop the bleeding. In severe cases of postpartum hemorrhaging, a hysterectomy may be the only way to stop the hemorrhaging.
So, to answer the question “can uterine fibroids cause bleeding during pregnancy?” the answer is yes. If you do have fibroids and are considering pregnancy or are currently pregnant, this is something you may need to discuss with your doctor. If you aren’t pregnant yet, you may first want to eliminate any fibroids that you may have before getting pregnant so that your growing baby is not crowded out by these growing tumors in addition to the other problems that fibroids may cause. Thankfully, there are many ways to shrink fibroids naturally.