For a condition affecting an estimated two-thirds of all women and 80 percent of African American women, there isn’t a lot of public discussion about the impact of uterine fibroids. Three leading voices in the movement for better information, education and options around uterine fibroids – Sateria Venable of the Fibroid Foundation; Linda Blount, MPH, of Black Women’s Health Imperative; and Charlotte Owens, MD, medical director, general medicine, AbbVie and a practicing gynecologist – share thoughts on the mistakes of the past and hope for the future.
What are uterine fibroids?
Charlotte Owens, MD, medical director, general medicine, AbbVie: Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) growths of the uterus that commonly appear during childbearing years. They range in size from almost too small to measure to large bulky sizes that can distort and/or enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones.
While uterine fibroids are very common, not all women will know they have them because they may not have symptoms, or may not recognize they have symptoms. These symptoms can include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual bleeding, bleeding in between periods, frequent periods and irregular periods. Women with uterine fibroids are more likely to have heavy menstrual bleeding, passage of clots and anemia than those without fibroids. And in addition to bleeding symptoms, uterine fibroids can be associated with non-bleeding symptoms such as abdominal/pelvic pressure, urinary urgency and frequency, and lower back pain.