Uterine fibroids— non-cancerous tumors that grow on the muscle fibers of the uterus– will affect most women in their lifetime. However, Black women are three times more likely than White women to have fibroids and may even be susceptible to these growths earlier in life. While 50-70 percent of white women will likely develop fibroids over the course of their life, a black woman’s risk is a staggering 80 percent. So, it is important that we know all we can about the growths, how to minimize our risk and treatment options. Dr. Dawson has been treating women’s gynecological disorders, with both traditional and holistic, medicine for 26 years and was excited to share these 8 Things Black Women Should Know About Uterine Fibroids.
8 Things Every Black Woman Should Know About Uterine Fibroids
- Heavy periods can be a warning of underlying health issues, including fibroids. “Your menstrual period should last only 7 days”, Dr. Dawson warns, “A period that lasts longer than a week can be a telltale sign of underlying health issues, especially if your flow is heavy. She further urges women to take note of the consistency of their menstrual blood. ”A lot of women think that passing blood clots is normal,” Dr. Dawson explained,”but if you are passing blood clots, you should be screened for fibroids.”
- So why are Black women are more likely to be affected by uterine fibroids, anyways? “Scientists think it is genetic for the most part,” Dr. Dawson explained, “They are more common not only in African- Americans but also in africans. Scientists are identifying some genetic variations that seem to promote fibroid, but this research is still in its nascent stages.”
- Genetics is not the only factor predisposing Black women to these growths. Genetics aside, there are many factors (which Black women have control over) that are attributed at increased risk of fibroids and fibroid growth. “Besides the genetic factor, some of other reasons fibroids are so common in Black women include stress, poor diet, addiction to sugar and obesity, Dr. Dawson said, “We do know that estrogen makes fibroids grow. Sources of estrogen include your ovaries and also fat cells also produce estrogen. If you have more than your share of fat cells, you are going to have more estrogen circulating in the body.” A healthy diet and gym regimen is does more than help you maintain your figure, it also can decrease your risk of fibroids.
- Fibroids Increases your risk for pregnancy complications. Fibroids can have an impact on fertility, particularly if the growths block the entrance to the cervix. “It also puts patients at an Increased risk of the baby being in a breech position or some other abnormal presentation during birth, c-sections, postpartum hemorrhage,” the Doc continued.
- Constipation can lead to rapid growth of fibroids. “If you not having a bowel movement at least once a day, that’s definitely a cause for concern since the body removes estrogen via stool,” Dr. Dawson explained, “Estrogen is broken down in the liver before exiting through the stool. In some women because of genetics, their liver is breaks estrogen down to a more potent and more cancer-causing form. Women should definitely be aware of how their body processes this hormone.”
Dr. Dawson recommends that all women take an estrogen metabolism test. No traditional labs are doing it right now and you can only get it done at a holistic lab, but it is important to know how your body metabolizes estrogen.
- Don’t ever forget the mind-body and soul connection. Women of color suffer with all manners of stress and are more likely to face abuse and trauma, with little to no support or intervention, which can have an impact on our overall health. “I believe that we are energetic beings and studies have shown that women who have had a history of abuse, sexual, physical, be it physical tend to have more gynecological problems,” the doc told us, “You can be eating perfectly, exercising perfectly, but if you have these unhealed ongoing spiritual wounds, that can also help your fibroids to grow.”
- Vitamin D deficiency can promote fibroids (and a whole host of other medical problems). “Because of the melanin in African-American skin, it is harder to produce Vitamin D,” Dr. Dawson said, “90-95% of women are deficient in vitamin D, which is problematic. Vitamin D is not only important to protect against fibroid growth. Vitamin D deficiency is also a risk factor for breast cancer, colon cancer, increases risk for autoimmune disease and other diseases.
- Surgery is not the only option, but sometimes it’s the best one. “Holistic treatments help when you catch it early, “ Dr. Dawson said, “but general pain, bleeding, pain during intercourse and bladder issues are probably going to respond better to removing the fibroid.” She recommends that women suffering with fibroid growths consult, not only with a regular gynecologist, but also a holistic doctor to decide if there are less invasive methods of treatment.