Washington: A new study has revealed that uterine fibroids cause significant fear and morbidity and can compromise workplace performance.
The survey of nearly 1,000 women in the U.S. sheds new light on the impact, prevalence and treatment concerns related to uterine leiomyomas (fibroids), which affect up to 80 percent of women by age 50.
Elizabeth A. Stewart, M.D., lead author and gynecologic surgeon at Mayo Clinic, said many people are unaware that the vast majority of women will experience uterine fibroids in their lifetime and that this condition can cause significant morbidity for those who are symptomatic.
The survey assessed diagnosis, information-seeking behaviours, attitudes about fertility, impact on work and treatment preferences among women living with uterine fibroids for an average of nearly nine years.
The researchers found that women delayed seeking treatment an average of 3.6 years, with 32 percent of women waiting more than five years. Most women reported fears associated with their fibroids, including being afraid that the fibroids will grow (79 percent) and that they will need a hysterectomy (55 percent), as well as fears regarding relationships, sexual function, body image, loss of control and hopelessness.
Almost two-thirds (66 percent) of women were concerned about missed days from work due to their symptoms, and 24 percent of employed respondents felt that their symptoms prevented them from reaching their career potential. The vast majority said they prefer a minimally invasive treatment option that preserves the uterus.
The researchers found that African-American women were significantly more likely to have severe or very severe symptoms, including heavy or prolonged menses and anemia.
The study is published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Journal of Women's Health.