The association between childbirth, breastfeeding, and uterine fibroids: an observational study

Giovanni Delli Carpini, Stefano Morini, Maria Papiccio, Matteo Serri, Valentina Damiani, Camilla Grelloni, Nicolò Clemente, Andrea Ciavattini
Scientific Reports 2019 July 12, 9 (1): 10117
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of childbirth and breastfeeding on uterine fibroids and to identify the factors associated with size variations. This was a monocenter observational study carried on women with a sonographic diagnosis of uterine fibroids from January 2007 to December 2016, with no indication for immediate treatment, and who became pregnant within one year from diagnosis. All patients were re-evaluated six months after delivery. Fibroid diameters were compared between pre-pregnancy period, first, second, third trimester and post-delivery. The rate of "regressed" (growth of diameter <-40%), "unchanged" (growth of diameter between -40% and +40%) or "increased" (growth of diameter >+40%) fibroids at the post-delivery evaluation with respect to the pre-pregnancy state was calculated. One-hundred fifty-seven women were included in the final analysis. At the post-delivery ultrasound, a significant reduction of the fibroid diameter with respect to all previous examinations was observed, and there was no evidence of 67 (37.2%) fibroids. Ongoing breastfeeding was positively associated with an "unchanged" or "regressed" fibroid diameter (adOR 3.23, 95%CI: 1.35-7.70, p < 0.01). Smaller pre-gravidic fibroids were more likely to return to pre-pregnancy dimensions or to regress, with a cut-off of 32 mm for lactating women and of 26 mm for non-lactating women. In conclusion, fibroids seem to return to pre-pregnancy dimensions or to regress in the post-partum period. This process may be sustained by uterine involution and hormonal variations, with an additional role of breastfeeding.

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