What Black Women Need To Know About Fibroids

Fibroids don’t care who you are, and for black women this is a fact. Artist FKA Twigs, model Cynthia Bailey and Beverly Johnson have all shared their battle with them, but they are a mere portion of black women battling fibroids.

According to the Office of Women’s Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, some 20 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids by age 50.

Black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than white women, and according to a recent study between 80 and 90 percent of black women will develop fibroids by age 50 compared to 70 percent of white women.

What Are They?
Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Though they are tumors, they are often benign (noncancerous) and can go unnoticed without symptoms for many women. They vary in size from 1 inch to 8 inches.  They can grow in three areas; the submucosal or the uterine cavity; the intramural or within the wall of the uterus, and the subserosal or the outside of the uterus.
Submucosal fibroids are the most common kind.

What Causes Them?
The cause of fibroids is unknown; however researchers have attributed cause factors to be:
·         Hormonal (estrogen and progesterone levels)
·         Hereditary
·         Obesity and diet
·         Alcohol
·         Vitamin D deficiency
·         Using hair relaxer (studies have linked this as a probable cause, as the chemicals in it are known hormone disrupters)
Symptoms of Fibroids
Black women are two to three times more likely to have symptoms like:
·         Heavy bleeding during menstruation
·         Long lasting periods
·         Pelvic cramping or paint with periods
·         Bleeding between periods
·         The constant feeling of having to pee
·         Pain during sex
·         Bloating
·         Pressure or fullness in lower belly
Fibroids And Fertility
Women can still conceive with fibroids, however they can impact fertility depending on where they are located. Fibroids in the uterine cavity of the uterus or submucosal fibroids can prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterine lining and cause trouble of conceiving or a miscarriage. Fibroids in the uterine muscle or intramural fibroids can block the fallopian tubes, which results in no entry way for the embryo to pass into the uterine cavity where it could implant on the endometrial lining.
How Are They Treated?
Hysterectomy: This is the surest way to eliminate fibroids. It is the surgical removal of the entire uterus. However, this means you would not be able to have children and will go into menopause. Hysterectomies are usually recommended for women with large uterine fibroids and extreme heavy bleeding, or who are nearing post-menopause.

Myomectomy:  Myomectomy is a conservative surgical therapy procedure that removes fibroids that enter the uterine cavity. This keeps the uterus intact for pregnancy. The surgery typically involves an inserting an instrument into the uterus to remove or destroy fibroids, or makes small incisions in the uterine and abdominal walls.

Endometrial Ablation: A minor surgery with heavy impact, endometrial ablations destroys the lining of the uterus. This does not remove all fibroids but controls heavy bleeding. This method also makes it highly unlikely to have children after.

Myolysis: Myolysis is a procedure typically used for small fibroids. For this, the doctor cut the blood supply to the fibroids with radiofrequency energy. The electric current or laser destroys fibroids and shrinks blood vessels.

Birth Control/Hormonal Medication: Medication does not eliminate fibroids, but it targets hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle and cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. Some medications like danazol can even shrink fibroids.  

Anti-Hormonal Medication:  Non-hormonal medication work to lighten bleeding during heavy periods and relieve pain associated with fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization: This surgery is performed by a radiologist and includes fluoroscopy, a real time x-ray. A radiologist inserts a thin instrument into the artery at the groin or wrist, then guides it to the fibroids blood supply. Particles are released to float downstream and block blood vessels, which is the blood supply for fibroids.


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