There is a common health condition in this country affecting as many as 80 percent of adult African American women. It can drastically affect quality of life, causing pain, excessive bleeding and even affecting fertility. And these women are, all too often, not given sufficient information about their treatment options!
Fibroids: A Common Problem
The condition we’re discussing is uterine fibroids, fleshy, non-cancerous tumors that develop in, on or around a woman’s uterus. While the reasons why aren’t entirely clear, fibroids are three times as common in African American populations as in Caucasian ones.
Unfortunately, many of these women are denied appropriate fibroid care. They are told to undergo hysterectomies—the complete removal of a woman’s uterus—to cure their fibroids. And, while a hysterectomy will eliminate a woman’s fibroid problems, it can cause a whole range of new health problems, aside from immediate infertility. Studies have shown that hysterectomies, especially in women under 40, can lead to incontinence, loss of sex drive, depression, obesity issues and cardiac problems later in a woman’s life.
While that fact is scary enough, the scarier fact is this: hysterectomy is not the only option for women seeking relief from fibroid symptoms. There are surgeries that remove the tumors while keeping the uterus in tact (myomectomy.) And, even more excitingly, there are non-surgical procedures that can cut off blood flow to a fibroid, effectively killing it, without forcing a woman to deal with hospital stays or extended down time. Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization, the treatment is a wonderful option for women seeking to avoid the expense and risks of a more invasive surgical procedure. The only problem is: many women aren’t even told about this option.
That’s where health care activism has to step in and make a difference. Interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are fighting to help all women improve their access to health care by spreading the word about UFE. We believe that women should be told about all available treatment options so they can make informed healthcare decisions. And we want your help in this mission. Share your fibroid stories (and info on alternatives to hysterectomy) with the #FibroidFix and help us get women’s health care issue trending!