What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are a noncancerous tumor that develops in or around the uterus. There are four main types of fibroids which are classified by where they develop in proximity to the uterus and uterine lining. Uterine fibroids are not life-threatening, but they can cause painful symptoms and other serious complications if left untreated. Many women will develop fibroids in their life, especially women of African or African-American descent. But why do women of color have and increased risk of developing fibroids?
This February for Black History Month, we are taking a closer look at the relationship between uterine fibroids in black women. Read more to find out everything you need to know about fibroids, symptoms, risk factors, treatment and more.
Common Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
For some women, especially those going through menopause, symptoms, and signs of uterine fibroids may seem non-existent. However, it’s important to know what to look for in case you do start experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation between or during your periods
- Anemia, which can lead to fatigue
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Constipation and/or bloating
- Pain in your pelvis or lower back
- Increased menstrual cramping
- Protruding abdomen or belly area
Not only are black women more prone to getting fibroids, but they may also experience different or additional symptoms of uterine fibroids compared to women of other races. They may often suffer from severe symptoms, and around 40% of black women with fibroids frequently report painful menstruation and cramps. Fibroid symptoms also cause black women to be three times higher for risk of anemia and can affect fertility.
Fibroid Risk Factors
While an estimated 70 to 80% of women develop fibroids by age 50, black women are 80 to 90% more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Compared to other racial groups, both African and African-American women have a risk three times greater for developing uterine fibroids.
Black women are more likely to:
- Develop uterine fibroids
- Be affected at an earlier age
- Experience a delayed diagnosis
- Develop a greater number of fibroids
- Have fibroids with higher growth rates
- Hospitalized due to fibroids
- Require blood transfusion because of heavy bleeding
- Treat fibroids with surgical intervention
- Have complications from fibroid surgery
Treatment of Uterine Fibroids for Black Women
There are currently a range of options when it comes to uterine fibroid treatment. These options include surgical – Hysterectomy or Myomectomy, hormonal therapy like birth control or Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), and non-surgical methods, like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE gives women the freedom to avoid an invasive surgery. It is also effective at alleviating fibroid symptoms and allows for preservation of the uterus. However, many black women do not have access to these less invasive, outpatient treatment procedures, thus turning them to hysterectomy.
Unfortunately, black women are less likely to have laparoscopic hysterectomies than other races. This also applies to upper-income black women. Poorer women and women without private health insurance are also less likely to undergo surgery for their fibroids. Women often suffer in pain because they think their severe pelvic pain or heavy bleeding is normal; when in reality, it is not. Due to the fact that comparing period pain is difficult because of its subjectivity, many women have no idea what constitutes as normal. All women, regardless of race, should not have to suffer in pain due to being misinformed.
Although hysterectomy is an effective cure for uterine fibroids, it is not recommended for women of reproductive age that plan to conceive a child in the future. Although there are other options, black women with fibroids are two to three times more likely to get hysterectomy for fibroid removal and seven times more likely to get a myomectomy. It is unknown exactly why so many turn to hysterectomy for relief, however research has suggested that it’s a result of widespread misinformation.
The cause of fibroids in any race is widely unknown, mostly because fibroids are so unpredictable. The same goes for why fibroids are more prevalent in black women compared to other races. Fibroid symptoms can be very painful and unpleasant for every woman with fibroids. However, black women with fibroids most commonly report that their symptoms interfere with physical activity. Painful sex due to fibroids is also most common among black women.
Every woman deserves to keep her uterus and ability to reproduce, regardless of their age or race. It’s important to consult with a fibroid specialist about your symptoms and what treatments you may be eligible for. UFE is a very effective, non-surgical treatment method for uterine fibroids, which unfortunately most women have never heard of. At USA Fibroid Centers, we exclusively offer UFE treatment for uterine fibroids through our outpatient treatment clinics nationwide.
Many women wonder why they developed fibroids, but few actually know about all their options for treatment. At USA Fibroid Centers, we want every woman with fibroids, of every race, age, background and income bracket, to have access to treatment that can provide them with lasting relief. If you think you have uterine fibroids, or if you want to know more about Uterine Fibroid Embolization, give us a call today at 855.615.2555.
Our on-site representatives are happy to answer any questions you my have regarding insurance, treatment cost, doctor availability, or setting up an appointment. Don’t let fibroids ruin your life, get treatment from the nation’s largest fibroid treatment network.