Many women with fibroids are told the small growths are harmless, but that’s not what researchers recently reported in the journal Human Reproduction. It appears fibroids growing inside the uterus can distort the shape of the uterine lining, causing recurrent miscarriages. Removal of these fibroids may return the uterus to normal shape and reduce the risk of miscarriages in the future.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield partnered with researchers at Sheffield Hospital for 20 years of research. What the team found was a means of reducing second trimester miscarriage risk to 0. Doctors already knew of the connection between fibroids and spontaneous miscarriage, but having one miscarriage is different than having multiple miscarriages in a row. There has been no connection between fibroids and recurring miscarriages until now. Up to 10% of women suffer from fibroids, but researchers had no idea how many women experiencing recurring miscarriages had fibroids.

About 1,000 women were chosen for this study. All participants suffered recurring miscarriages (more than 3 miscarriages in a row.) Of these women, about 80 had fibroids in the uterus. This gave doctors a percentage of women suffering recurring miscarriages with fibroids- 8.2%. Of the 80 women with fibroids, 25 underwent surgery to have the fibroids removed. Before surgery, about 22% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage in the second trimester. After the surgery, 0% of the pregnancies ended in miscarriage in the second trimester.

There is still more work to be done as many of the women suffering recurring miscarriages in the study did not have fibroids. These women are left with no known cause of miscarriage and little hope of having children. But, this research does shed light on the impact of a healthy, well-rounded uterus on pregnancy rate.

Additional research with a larger participant pool is needed to confirm the research findings, but doctors and researchers are optimistic that fibroid removal could greatly impact pregnancy success rates.

Source: Sotirios H. Saravelos, Junhao Yan, Hassan Rehmani, Tin-Chiu Li. European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. 28 September, 2011.