By: Shelagh McNally for Fibroids1
Most discussions around fibroids usually include pregnancy and infertility concerns. But what about birth control? Only two to three percent of women with fibroids will actually become infertile, and often the diagnosis comes at a time when a woman is not ready to start a family. Finding an effective contraception is a challenge for every woman but especially for those with fibroids.
|Contraception Success Rates|
IUD: 98-99 percent
Depo provera: 97-99.7 percent
Birth Control Pill: 95-99 percent
Diaphragm: 80-94 percent
Condoms: 76-97 percent
Spermicides: 74-94 percent
The birth control pill remains the most popular method. In fact, the latest birth control pill with its small amounts of estrogen is sometimes prescribed as a form of therapy for fibroids. It is thought that the low dose of estrogen suppresses the body’s production of th hormone responsible for fibroid growth. The pill also reduces cramping and lightens menstrual bleeding, which can bring relief. Unfortunately there is an ongoing debate over whether the birth control pill causes fibroids to grow. According to Dr. Donnica L. Moore, the confusion stems from older data when birth control pills contained much higher estrogen levels. Also, the pill is often lumped together with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescribed for menopausal women. HRT is known to stimulate fibroid growth, but there is mounting evidence that the low-level estrogen birth control pill does not cause fibroids to get larger.
Another hormone contraceptive being considered for fibroids is Depo Provera, a form of progesterone that is injected monthly. Several ongoing studies are researching the possibility that Depo Provera may shrink fibroids over time. A 2004 study conducted by the Mandela School of Medicine in South Africa found that over a period of six months, 20 premenopausal women had a 70 percent improvement in their bleeding and a 33 to 48 percent reduction in fibroids after having the injection.
In most cases, the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) is a viable option as well. There are several scenarios when the IUD will not be suitable – particularly if fibroids have enlarged the uterus to the point that the IUD cannot get contact with the uterine wall. The existence of several submucosal fibroids will also reduce its effectiveness because there won’t be any room to place the device. Since the IUD is known to cause heavy bleeding, those suffering from menorrhagia (heavy bleeding) should use the type that contains progestin.
The vaginal diaphragm remains a convenient, if somewhat unreliable, method for many women with fibroids. However, if a fibroid is pressing on the vagina and distorting its shape, it will be difficult to get a proper fit, thereby reducing the diaphragm’s effectiveness. Condoms and spermidices are also options – although not 100 percent guaranteed.
Fertility does not end with fibroids. Talk with your doctor to determine which birth control method best suits your individual needs.