The effect of uterine fibroids on embryo implantation

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Abstract

Uterine fibroids are common but their role in infertility and effect on embryo implantation is unclear. There is evidence that submucosal fibroids are associated with poor reproductive outcome and that treatment with myomectomy is associated with an improvement in pregnancy rates. Various theories have been proposed to explain this relationship. Fibroids cause a mechanical distortion of the endometrial cavity-their presence may alter gamete and embryo transport (due to blockage of the tubal ostia or by altering uterine contractility and peristalsis) and subsequent embryo implantation (due to compression of the endometrium). They may lead to disruption of the junctional zone within the myometrial layer, affecting general uterine function in the initial stages of embryo invasion and later placentation. Altered vasculature due to the abnormal expression of angiogenic factors by uterine fibroids (such as basic fibroblast growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor) could play a role in a reduced implantation rate in patients with fibroids. Similarly, changes in the endometrium mediated by inflammation and factors involved in the process of fibrosis (such as transforming growth factor) could also have a detrimental effect. In addition, fibroids may affect gene expression pattern in the endometrium (such as HOXA10), disrupting the window of implantation. The supporting evidence for these theories is discussed in this review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-9
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Reproductive Medicine
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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