Fibroids and African American Women: The Alarming Statistics
By age 50, an estimated 80% of African-American women will have developed uterine fibroids. The benign growths cause period pain and heavy bleeding and can hinder a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a child to term. Just as alarming, according to a 2013 study, 43% of African-American women with fibroids often wait four or more years longer than their white counterparts to seek treatment, which can lead to even more severe symptoms.
According to that same 2013 study, when many African-American women eventually do seek medical treatment, it is often too late. Doctors perform hysterectomies on African-American women 2.4 times more often than on white women.
Left untreated, fibroids can grow in size and become as large as a grapefruit. Women can have a single fibroid or have multiple ones. They can have symptoms or be asymptomatic.
There are five types of fibroids. These are:
- Intramural fibroids that grow into the wall of the uterus (most common)
- Subserosal fibroids that grow on the outside of the uterus
- Submucosal fibroids located in the muscle beneath the lining of the uterine wall, or endometrium
- Intracavity fibroids that are located in the uterine cavity
- Cervical fibroids that form in the cervix
African-American women, pregnancy, and fibroids
Fibroids can lead to pregnancy complications, especially for African-American women, who are prone to high-risk pregnancies arising from gestational fibroids. Common complications due to fibroids include cesarean section, a breech baby, pre-term delivery, placental abruption—when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before delivery, leading to a lack of oxygen for the fetus—and a stalled labor.
Here at Seckin Endometriosis Center, no matter what kind of fibroid they have, we encourage our patients who are experiencing a loss in quality of life and comfort to seek early and timely surgical intervention to achieve better health outcomes.
Surgical treatment of fibroids
When it comes to fibroids, hysterectomy should be the last and final option and should be the patient’s choice first. At Seckin Endometriosis Center, our surgeon Dr. Tamer Seckin uses a number of masterful techniques to safely remove fibroids and restore a woman’s reproductive health and livelihood.
Myomectomy is the surgical removal of myomas by cutting into the uterus, followed by uterine suture repair. There are three types of myomectomies.
- Laparotomic myomectomy: This open abdominal surgery gives the surgeon full visualization to remove the fibroids.
- Laparoscopic myomectomy: This is a minimally invasive abdominal surgery that is the preferred method for removing fewer than four small fibroids. This is a much more precise, difficult, and longer surgery, but is also extremely effective
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy: This is a minimally invasive vaginal surgery only for small, pedunculated submucosal fibroids. This procedure does not require an incision into the abdomen
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This surgery should only be a last resort to treat fibroids. If the fibroids are large, diffuse, and cannot be treated by any other protocol, then a hysterectomy is considered. Very rarely is this form of surgery needed for fibroids, and yet it accounts for one-third of hysterectomies in the U.S.
Dr. Seckin is highly skilled in treating most cases of fibroids via laparoscopic myomectomy and uterine repair. His preferred method of fibroid removal is via laparoscopic surgery, which can remove the fibroid at its root with less downtime than an invasive surgery. Very, very rarely do we see the need for an open, invasive myomectomy, which requires a longer time to heal and a much larger incision, or a hysterectomy.
I discovered Dr. Seckin online when I was doing some research on laparoscopic fibroid removal. I had a very large uterine fibroid that caused me constant discomfort, and I desperately wanted it removed. Previous doctors I had seen were either dismissive about my fibroid or just wanted to give me a hysterectomy, as it would be “easiest.” Then there were the doctors who would be willing to remove my fibroid less invasively but whose costs were so high that I could never afford them despite having good health insurance. I was beginning to feel disheartened and discouraged.
I called Dr. Seckin’s office hoping that this might be my answer and after talking with Kim, who was so very kind and helpful, I made an appointment. Both Kim and Lucy were so warm and welcoming and patient in answering every question I had. Once I met Dr. Seckin I knew right away that I was in good hands. He reassured me that he could take care of my fibroid by removing it laparoscopically, in the least invasive way possible. He also assured me that regardless of my insurance issues and finances, he would take care of me. I knew that he genuinely cared and I felt relieved and confident that I was under the right care.
It has been a couple of months since my surgery, and I couldn’t be happier. I no longer have the discomfort I had daily. I cannot thank Dr. Seckin and his staff enough for helping me and for taking such great care of me. Dr. Seckin is by far one of the most compassionate and caring doctors I have ever met. I am so grateful for having found him, and I am forever grateful to for all his care and kindness.