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Fibroids and in-vitro fertilization: which comes first?

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: There is no consensus about the impact of uterine fibroids on fertility. This review explores past and recent studies that investigated the effects of submucosal, intramural, and subserosal fibroids on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes. We discuss the importance of proper evaluation of the uterus and endometrial cavity, and current options for optimal fibroid management in patients desiring fertility.

RECENT FINDINGS: Several studies have reviewed the data on fibroids and infertility, further exploring this potential relationship. Two recent studies investigated reproductive outcomes before and after myomectomy, and IVF outcomes based on fibroid size and location. Both studies concluded that fibroids can impair reproductive outcomes. Several papers thoroughly reviewed medical and surgical management options for patients with fibroids and desired fertility. Although several medical therapies may reduce fibroid volume or decrease menorrhagia, myomectomy remains the standard of care for future fertility. Recent data identified an increased rate of pregnancy complications after uterine artery embolization compared with laparoscopic myomectomy. A new procedure, magnetic resonance imaging-guided focused ultrasound ablation, shows promise for the management of symptomatic fibroids, and possibly for the management of fibroids prior to pregnancy. As with embolization, more data are needed to evaluate postprocedure fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

SUMMARY: Fibroid location, followed by size, is the most important factor determining the impact of fibroids on IVF outcomes. Any distortion of the endometrial cavity seriously affects IVF outcomes, and myomectomy is indicated in this situation. Myomectomy should also be considered for patients with large fibroids, and for patients with unexplained unsuccessful IVF cycles.

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