While fibroids might be a common affliction for most people with a uterus, the risk is much higher for Black women. In fact, some studies show that over 80 percent of Black women over the age of 50 will have uterine fibroids, and their fibroids can be larger in size, which can cause greater physical discomfort and more intense symptoms. Many Black women also have a more difficult time getting treated for fibroids, which is sad yet unsurprising given the history of how Black women’s sexuality and reproductive health has been exploited in the name of medicine in America for centuries.
Additionally, research shows that overweight or obese people, and those over the age of 65 are more at risk for uterine fibroids than others. On average, Black people also develop fibroids at an earlier age than their white counterparts and have higher rates of hospitalization from complications.
Despite how many folks deal with fibroids, there are still a lot of misconceptions floating around about what they actually are. While they should be taken seriously, they are not always a reason for fear. With swift treatment and the right information, a uterine fibroid diagnosis can be addressed and treated with relative ease — which is why it’s so important to know if you might be more at risk and to talk to a healthcare professional.
What are uterine fibroids?
According to the Office on Women’s Health, uterine fibroids (also known as “leiomyomas”) are characterized as muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus, which are almost always benign, or not cancerous. Not all people with fibroids have symptoms, and the size and shape of the fibroid can vary greatly, ranging from tiny growths that are undetectable to the human eye to large masses that can distort the uterus’ shape.
According to an article written for Hopkins Medicine by gynecologist Mindy Christianson, between 20 to 70 percent of people with uteruses will develop uterine fibroids during their reproductive years, though they’re usually harmless. Despite the fact that they are only cancerous for less than one in a thousand people, your OB/GYN will still most likely suggest treating them, as they can be inconvenient, and sometimes cause physical pain.