By: Krystle Crossman
Fibroids are nasty little medical anomalies that happen to many women all over the world, but happen to more black women than any other race. They cause pain, discomfort, and bleeding. Some fibroids may be small, others can be extremely large, like the size of a melon. They are non-cancerous tumors that form on the uterine wall and cause a host of problems. Heavy bleeding can occur for weeks or months at a time, completely disrupting the patient’s life. A woman by the name of Renee Brown Small was unable to go hang out at the beach with her friends on a hot summer day because the bleeding was so bad.
The Department of Health and Human Services states that 20% to 80% of women will develop fibroids within the first 50 years of their lives. Some women won’t even know that they are there as severe symptoms do not show in all cases. Black women have a much higher number of cases but it is still unclear as to why at this time. Researchers believe it has quite a bit to do with genetics as fibroids seem to run in the family with most patients. Federal researched on fibroids in black women has been stalled while these women are suffering. In 2012 $14 million was spent on research for fibroids. This year the National Institute of Health says that they will likely spend less than that to the tune of $10 million.
A study was conducted at the Mayo Clinic on fibroids and black women. It showed that black women experienced more severe symptoms. They also missed more days of work because of the symptoms that came along with the fibroids. Most of the women who were diagnosed with them were unhappy because the information that was given to them about the condition was lacking and they did not feel that they knew anything about the disease that was literally ruining their lives. There are different treatments that can help to ease the symptoms or eliminate the fibroids all together but the study showed that many black women wait for an extended period of time before they are actually checked out.
Surgery is the most common treatment, especially when the fibroids are large. Small had waited 2 years after her symptoms started showing up to see a doctor and they found that she had multiple fibroids including one that was the size of a grapefruit. She had surgery to remove them and has not had a reoccurrence since. She feels that black women need more education on the topic so they know what they are dealing with and they know to get treatment sooner rather than later when the problem is unbearable.