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From Fibroids to Family: What Are They & Do They Affect Fertility?

Fibroids are a pretty common female reproductive health issue – but one that is still largely misunderstood. If your partner is living with fibroids, the best thing you can do to be supportive is to get informed – especially if you’re on a fertility journey together. Here we’ll explain all about fibroids and the impact they can have when trying to conceive.


What are fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can grow anywhere in or around the uterus. They’re also sometimes known as uterine myomas or leiomyomas. Fibroids are made up of muscle and tissue and they can be as small as a pea – but sometimes they can grow as large as a melon!

Some fibroids develop in the wall of the womb – these are known as Intramural Fibroids whilst others, known as Subserosal Fibroids can grow outside of the womb. These are the ones that can get very large. There is also a third type of fibroid called Submucosal Fibroids which grow from the womb wall into the womb cavity itself. These are the fibroids most likely to cause issues with fertility.

Fibroids are more common than you may think – with around 70% of women developing fibroids at some point in their lives.


What causes fibroids?

The exact cause of fibroids is still a bit of a mystery but it’s thought to be connected to oestrogen, much like other oestrogen-dependent conditions like endometriosis and adenomyosis. They will often occur around the time oestrogen is highest – around the ages of 30-50 – and then shrink when women reach menopause.


Symptoms of Fibroids

The symptoms and severity of fibroids can differ greatly between people – especially because they can vary so dramatically in size. Around 1 in 3 people who have fibroids will experience no symptoms at all and might not even know they have them.

However, for others, the condition can impact the quality of their life in different ways.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Heavy Periods
  • Painful periods
  • Pelvic and Abdominal Pain
  • Issues with Constipation
  • Frequent Need To Urinate
  • Pain during and After Sex


Getting diagnosed with fibroids

As fibroids are often asymptomatic (show no symptoms) it’s not always easy to get a diagnosis.

However, if your partner is living with painful, heavy periods or any of the other symptoms on the above list, encourage them to speak to their GP. If a doctor suspects that fibroids may be causing the health issues, they can make a referral for an ultrasound scan.
They may also decide to perform a hysteroscopy or a laparoscopy, where a camera is inserted into the womb either through the vagina (hysteroscopy) or via a small incision (laparoscopy).


Is there a cure for fibroids?

Fibroids will often shrink of their own accord as women get older and their oestrogen levels get lower. However, there are also a few different options for treating them. Doctors may prescribe medication that will slow the growth of the womb lining which can help to alleviate painful, heavy periods. There are also specific medicines called Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues (GnRHas) which can help to shrink fibroids.

If the fibroids in question are particularly large, then surgery may be suggested as the best treatment route. The type of surgery will depend on the size of the fibroid and where they are growing. In some extreme cases, people may be advised to have a complete hysterectomy.


Fibroids and Fertility

Many people with fibroids have no problems conceiving – so it’s important to know that fertility issues are not inevitable. Only 2-3% of female factor infertility cases are thought to be solely down to fibroids. However, if you have particularly large fibroids, or they are in certain places in the womb, they can cause some issues.

Fertility problems are most common with Submucosal Fibroids. This is because they grow in the womb itself. If these fibroids are large they can make it hard for sperm to reach the egg, or for a fertilised egg to implant in the lining of the womb.

If you’re struggling with these kinds of fibroids, doctors will often recommend that you have them removed via surgery before trying to conceive or embarking on an assisted fertility journey. Not only will this help to improve your chances of conceiving but will also help to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications including preterm birth.


Supporting a partner with fibroids

If you have a partner living with fibroids, there are some simple ways you can show your support.

  • Get Informed – and by reading this article you’ve made a good start!
  • Help Them With Their Symptoms – If they struggle with period or pelvic pain offer to give them a massage, cancel plans if they need to and make sure their preferred form of pain relief is always available
  • Be Mindful Of Sex – If painful sex is an issue, keep lines of communication open and find out what positions and types of sex are most comfortable and enjoyable for them.
  • Support a Healthy Lifestyle – Fibroids can thrive when someone is not looking after themselves. Cook healthy meals together, get out in nature and try some low-impact exercise dates – like a yoga class!
  • Take Control of Your Own Fertility – If your partner is struggling with fibroids and worried about their fertility journey, it can be helpful for you to understand what’s going on from your side. Our at home sperm test can help with that!


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More to explore


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.