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Uterine Fibroids: The African-American Disparity

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow within a woman’s uterus. Also known as “leiomyomas” or “myomas,” fibroids can range in size from as small as an apple seed to as large as a melon. Women who are affected by these myomas can have a single fibroid or multiple fibroids in their uterus during their lives.

Who is affected by fibroids?

It is estimated that around 25 million women between the ages of 15 to 50 have uterine fibroids. Of these women, at least 15 million will endure heavy symptoms and have health problems associated with fibroids.

Symptoms include:

  • Heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Periods lasting more than a week
  • Extreme pelvic pressure and pain
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Frequent bouts of constipation
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Are African-American women more susceptible to fibroids?

Multiple studies have shown that African-American women suffer from fibroids as much as 2 to 3 times more than Caucasian women. They also develop fibroids at a much earlier age as compared to women of other races, and their symptoms are often quite severe.

Almost a quarter of African-American women between the ages of 18 and 30 have fibroids. By the time they reach the age of 35, this number increases to 60% due to various reasons and potential risk factors (hereditary and environmental), including:

  • Family/genetic history of fibroids
  • Obesity and/or poor dietary habits
  • Deficiency of Vitamin-D
  • Elevated levels of stress
  • Starting menstrual cycles at an early age
  • Frequent use of and burns from chemical hair relaxers

African-American women are also twice as likely as women of other races to undergo hysterectomy as a treatment for fibroids. Despite the availability of non-invasive, safe and effective fibroid treatment options, African-American women continue to lead the percentages of women undergoing hysterectomies for an illness that is treatable.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an FDA approved, minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that is performed in an outpatient setting across the country to effectively treat uterine fibroids. Not only does it save the uterus, but it also preserves fertility unlike hysterectomy.

How do I seek help for my symptoms?

If you are suffering from symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, contact Dr. Neel Patel at The Atlanta Fibroid Clinic. Dr. Patel is a board-certified vascular and interventional radiologist specializing in the treatment of uterine fibroids through UFE. He is the founder and medical director of the Minimally Invasive Center of Atlanta located in Duluth and Decatur, Georgia.

Dr. Patel’s practice is recognized as one of the leading centers for the treatment of uterine fibroids. He has extensive experience performing uterine fibroid embolization and prides himself on educating women about fibroids to ease their symptoms.

Contact The Atlanta Fibroid Clinic to find out how you can be symptom-free through UFE.

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