African American Women Fibroids

Fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the uterus, are a common health concern, affecting millions of women worldwide. However, research shows that Black women are disproportionately affected by fibroids, experiencing higher rates and more severe symptoms than women of other races. This phenomenon raises important questions about the underlying causes and implications.

Why do Black Women get Fibroids?

Research has consistently shown that African American women are indeed more likely to develop fibroids compared to women of other racial backgrounds. Studies have indicated that up to 80 percent of African American women will develop fibroids by the age of 50, compared to approximately 70% of white women. Additionally, African American women often experience fibroids at an earlier age and have larger and more fibroids compared to women of other ethnicities. This increased prevalence underscores the importance of raising awareness and providing targeted healthcare initiatives for African American women to ensure early detection, timely treatment, and better management of fibroids. By addressing this health disparity, we can work towards reducing the impact of fibroids on the lives of African American women and promoting better reproductive health outcomes.

Factors Contributing to Higher Rates of Fibroids in African-American Women:

  1. Hormonal Differences: Hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, influence fibroid growth. Studies have shown that Black women have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone receptors in their fibroid tissues, which may contribute to the growth and development of fibroids. Additionally, Black women often experience higher levels of these hormones, especially during reproductive years.
  2. Lifestyle and Environmental Factors: Lifestyle choices and environmental factors can also impact fibroid development. Factors such as diet, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins have been linked to fibroid growth. Diets high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables, more common in some populations, have been associated with an increased risk of fibroids.
  3. Vitamin D Deficiency: Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit fibroid cell growth. Black women are more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D due to higher melanin content in the skin, which reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. This deficiency could potentially contribute to the higher prevalence of fibroids.
  4. Healthcare Disparities: Disparities in healthcare access and quality can exacerbate the impact of fibroids on Black women. Limited access to healthcare, delays in diagnosis, and differences in treatment options can lead to worse outcomes. Black women are more likely to undergo invasive treatments like hysterectomies rather than less invasive options due to these disparities.

What Are the Racial Disparities for Fibroids?

There are significant racial disparities in the prevalence, severity, and outcomes of fibroids, particularly affecting Black women. Here are some key points regarding these disparities:

  1. Prevalence:
    • Black women are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids compared to white women. By age 50, approximately 80% of Black women will have fibroids, compared to 70% of white women.
  2. Age of Onset:
    • Black women tend to develop fibroids at a younger age. They are more likely to be diagnosed in their 20s, whereas fibroids in white women are often detected in their 30s and 40s.
  3. Severity and Symptoms:
    • Fibroids in Black women are generally larger, more numerous, and cause more severe symptoms. These symptoms can include heavy menstrual bleeding, severe pelvic pain, and complications during pregnancy.
  4. Healthcare Access and Treatment:
    • Black women often face barriers to accessing healthcare, which can delay diagnosis and treatment. They are more likely to undergo hysterectomies for fibroid treatment, which is a more invasive procedure compared to alternatives like myomectomy or medication.
  5. Socioeconomic Factors:
    • Socioeconomic status can influence the disparities in fibroid outcomes. Black women are more likely to experience poverty and have limited access to quality healthcare, which contributes to worse fibroid-related health outcomes.
  6. Genetic and Environmental Factors:
    • There is evidence to suggest that genetic predisposition plays a role in the higher incidence of fibroids among Black women. Additionally, environmental factors, such as diet, stress, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, may also contribute.
  7. Impact on Quality of Life:
    • The severe symptoms and complications associated with fibroids can significantly impact the quality of life of Black women. This includes chronic pain, anemia from heavy bleeding, and fertility issues.

Addressing these disparities requires a multifaceted approach, including increased awareness, improved access to healthcare, culturally sensitive medical care, and further research into the causes and treatment of fibroids in Black women.

Lack of Fibroid Awareness

The lack of fibroid awareness can result in a lack of open conversations about fibroids and their impact on reproductive health, leading to a decreased understanding of available treatment options and support services. This, in turn, may perpetuate disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. To address these challenges, it is important to increase fibroid awareness among Black women, promote culturally competent healthcare services, and facilitate open dialogues to empower them with knowledge and access to comprehensive care for better fibroid management.

“Awareness is critical for early detection, which is key to ensuring that women have a voice in their treatment options, ” said  Dr. Yan Katsnelson, Founder and CEO of USA Fibroid Centers. “Too many women with fibroids are unaware that there are less invasive treatments than a hysterectomy that are highly successful.”

Yan Katsnelson wtih Ebony Young, Vanessa Gibson
(L-R) Dr. Yan Katsnelson, Founder of USA Fibroid Centers, with Ebony Young, Deputy Queens Borough President, and Vanessa Gibson, Bronx Borough President, at a “Night in Purple” Fibroid Awareness event, held  July 28, 2022, at the Empire Steak House in Midtown Manhattan.

Fibroids are also the leading cause of hysterectomies for women seeking to relieve their uterine fibroid symptoms.  The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States each year- and fibroids top the list of reasons the surgery is performed.

The size and growth rates of fibroids are greater in African American women, and they are more likely to undergo surgical intervention than other racial groups. Approximately 42 per 1,000 women are hospitalized annually because of fibroids, but African American women have higher rates of hospitalization, myomectomies, and hysterectomies compared with white women.1

USA Fibroid Centers’ mission is to spread awareness and education about fibroid disease to help women learn about less invasive treatment options – such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

Fibroid Risk Factors for Black Women

The higher prevalence of black women being affected by fibroids significantly highlights the importance of understanding the specific risk factors that contribute to fibroids in African American Women.

Black women are more likely to:

  • Be affected at  earlier ages
  • 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

 Why Are Fibroids More Common in Black Women?

African American Women thinking about Fibroids

Researchers have found several elements that are linked to this disparity, though no cause has been identified. Here are some of the leading theories as to why fibroids in black women seem more prevalent:

  • A genetic element may increase this tendency among Black-American women.
  • Several studies suggested that women with fibroids experience greater overall lifetime stress, which may be a trigger.
  • Some evidence suggests environmental factors, such as diet may increase the risk of why people develop fibroids.
  • Another study indicated black women with fibroids have a Vitamin D deficiency due to darker skin.
  • A study of more than 23,000 black women found an increased risk of fibroids among those with the longest and most frequent use of hair relaxers.

Black women are more likely to develop fibroids more frequently compared to women of other racial backgrounds due to a combination of genetic, hormonal, and socioeconomic factors. Genetic predisposition plays a significant role, as fibroids tend to run in families, and certain gene variations may increase the risk of fibroid development in African American women. Hormonal differences also contribute, as fibroids are hormone-sensitive growths that thrive in response to estrogen and progesterone.

African American women tend to have higher estrogen levels and longer menstrual cycles, creating a favorable environment for fibroid growth. Moreover, socioeconomic factors such as limited access to health care, disparities in healthcare quality, and delayed medical care may contribute to the increased prevalence of fibroids in this population. Addressing these multi-factorial causes through targeted research, improved access to healthcare, and increased fibroid awareness can help reduce the burden of fibroids in African American women and improve their reproductive health outcomes.

Resources for Uterine Fibroids

By offering accessible and reliable resources for fibroid education, we can empower individuals to take charge of their health, seek timely medical care, and make informed decisions to effectively manage fibroids and improve their overall well-being.

About USA Fibroid Centers

USA Fibroid Centers has earned a reputation as a leader in uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) or uterine artery embolization (UAE), by prioritizing patient needs and concerns and recognizing the importance of personalized care.  We offer this same experience at all of our outpatient treatment clinics nationwide.

If you believe 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 may have regarding insurance, treatment cost, doctor availability, or setting up an appointment.

We also offer safe and easy online scheduling.

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