FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2020
Washington, DC – CARE (Community, Action, Research, and Education) About Fibroids, a nonprofit women's health organization dedicated to raising policymaker awareness of the impact of uterine fibroids among women in the U.S., today announced the publication of the group's third white paper entitled, "A Report on the Sexual and Emotional Impact of Uterine Fibroids." Given that the physical impacts of uterine fibroids have been well-documented and researched, CARE About Fibroids deemed it vital to focus on the emotional, mental, and psychological impact. The report predominately highlights the need for providers, physicians, community advocates, and activists to understand the overreaching impact that uterine fibroids has on the women who have to confront their existence every day.
About Uterine Fibroids
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health (OWH) estimates that between 70 percent and 80 percent of women will have uterine fibroids by the age of 50. Yet, due to lack of awareness or the belief that fibroids are a problem to be endured, many women go undiagnosed and untreated.
Among women in the U.S., uterine fibroids are significantly under-diagnosed and under-treated, despite being declared a public health burden by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Collectively, the price tag of symptomatic uterine fibroids, including lost work and disability, approaches $34 billion a year — on par with the combined annual costs of breast, colon, and ovarian cancer.
According to recent studies, women with “symptomatic” fibroids wait, on average, more than three years before seeing a doctor and almost a third (32 percent) wait up to five years. This lag can result in anemia, urinary tract infections, urinary obstruction, and kidney damage as well as cause women to experience body-issue anxieties, lower self-esteem, and worries about relationships and sexuality.
The problem is especially acute for black women where research demonstrates that fibroids are a pervasive health disparity. Compared to other American women, African-American women are three times more likely to develop fibroids, experience them at an earlier age, have multiples as opposed to a single growth, experience twice the pelvic pain and swelling, and have three times the rate of anemia. As a result, black women also have almost four times higher rates of hospitalizations and are close to three times more likely to undergo a hysterectomy to remove their fibroids. Similarly, myomectomy — the other form of fibroid surgery that leaves the uterus in place — is about seven times more common among African-American women.
In terms of the economic impact, it is estimated that more than $9 billion is spent annually for surgery, hospital admissions, outpatient visits, medications, and other direct medical costs for fibroid treatment. Symptomatic fibroids cost the economy above $17 billion annually in absenteeism, lost work, and short-term disability. An additional $8 billion is spent annually on uterine fibroid related pregnancy complications.
CARE About Fibroids
CARE About Fibroids is taking the lead in mobilizing women’s health advocacy and policy-focused organizations to build greater awareness of uterine fibroids, as well as a sense of urgency around the need for improved diagnosis, expanded and better treatment options, and enhanced patient access to appropriate care.
CARE About Fibroids is headquartered in Washington, DC, under the direction of its Executive Director Jenny Rosenberg and a Steering Committee of leading independent nonprofits focused on women’s health. Currently, the Steering Committee is comprised of: the Black Women’s Health Imperative, COSHAR Healthy Communities Foundation, HealthyWomen, and To Know Is To Know. Additionally, general members of CARE About Fibroids include the American Sexual Health Association, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the White Dress Project.