ATLANTA — Black women often struggle to get the same medical as white women but are they more likely to suffer from painful fibroids as well?
Are Black women more likely to be diagnosed with fibroids than white women?
Yes, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with fibroids than white women.
What we found
First, it's important to explain just what exactly fibroids are.
According to the Mayor Clinic, uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths which often appear during childbearing years. Most of the time, they don't cause problems and never develop into cancer.
"Most people, if they do have fibroids, they're often very small," Dr. Madeline Sutton explained.
If symptoms do occur, it can appear as:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying bladder
- Backache or leg pains
"So the very first thing you should do, if you think you might have like some pelvic pain or your cycle is heavier than usual and bleeding in-between periods, anything like that. I would definitely say reach out to your provider," Sutton added.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, while most women get them by age 50, fibroids are more common and more severe among Black women.
Sutton explained that many "might be avoiding their provider because they don't want to have a hysterectomy. But a hysterectomy is not the only treatment for fibroids. There are so many other options out there, so I just don't want people to look so miserable, or bleeding or having pain."
Right now, researchers across the world are working to find out why painful fibroids are more likely to happen to women of color.
One study, "Black Women's Health Study," suggests diet could play a role. Meanwhile, another links lack of vitamin D with increased risk.
The Black Women's Health Study also suggests Black women waited substantially longer than white women before seeking treatment (4.5 years compared to 3.3 years) which can lead to more severe cases and more expensive medical treatments, like surgery.
About 42 per 1,000 women who are hospitalized each year are because of fibroids, with Black women accounting for a majority of cases.
Health experts recommend maintaining a healthy weight and eating well to decrease the risk.