I'm touching on this here, because I think this is one of those pregnancy subjects that fall into the "things no one tells you" category.
When I was 20ish weeks pregnant, I went in for my anatomy scan. This is the one where they check to make sure everything is growing okay and there are the right number of everything.
During my ultrasound, they found that everything was growing okay, and Thatbaby had the right number of everything, but I had a little something extra. The scan revealed that I have two fibroids on the lower right of my uterus. This wasn't incredibly surprising or distressing to me. My mom had issues with fibroids when I was younger, so it made sense that they may be an issue for me also.
Depending on what source you look at, between 25% and 75% of all women of child bearing age have fibroids. Most go undetected because they're symptomless (like mine). In fact, if I never had an ultrasound, I may have gone my entire life without even knowing. And there's absolutely no telling how long they've been there.
So what's a fibroid and what does it mean? If you start doing research you'll note that a lot of descriptions of a fibroid is a "benign tumor" which sounds scarier than it really it. A tumor is just when tissue grows in a place it doesn't usually grow. A fibroid is basically when muscle cells grow where they shouldn't. Uterine fibroids are when those muscle cells are in/attached to the uterus.
The location of the fibroids plays a large role in both symptoms and potential pregnancy complications. There are three main types of fibroids, illustrated below:
The Intramural Fibroids are the most common, forming within the uterine wall. Depending on their size, they can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and/or pelvic pain.
The Submucosal Fibroids seem to be the most complicating from what I can gather - because they form on the inside of the uterus, they can interfere with implantation and potentially, based on size and location, may lead to an increased risk of preterm labor or miscarriage. Like the Intramural, heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain are also associated with this variety of fibroid.
I've got the Subserosal variety. This one forms on the outside of the uterus wall. Because it's on the outside, the main issue here is pelvic pain. However, if the fibroid is too close to the cervix, it can make vaginal delivery impossible. Both of mine were high enough where my doctor isn't concerned this will be a problem.
In general, most doctors do not do anything to treat/remove fibroids during pregnancy - more trouble than it's worth. Although one of mine is on the larger side, it's still too small to "worry about" even if I wasn't pregnant. According to the Mayo Clinic, most fibroids remain stable in size throughout pregnancy. My instructions were just to contact my doctor if I started developing pain on my lower right side, where the fibroids are. And if so, we'd have done another ultrasound to do a checksee on what's going on in there.
In my case, nothing happened. My fibroids never grew or caused any pain. They never interfered with Thatbaby's vaginal delivery. I'm not trying to downplay fibroids in general - in my mom's case, they were very painful and reoccurring, requiring surgery. And the submucosal fibroids can impact getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and even delivery. However, I also know the sound of a foreign growth in your body can be a VERY scary concept, and sometimes it's easy to let your imagination run away with you. Sometimes when you're pregnant, everyone and their mother feels the need to tell you every horror story they can think of, so sometimes it's nice to hear a story that doesn't make you live in terror!