Organisations from the Caribbean, US, UK and France have joined forces to launch a global campaign calling for a greater focus on fibroids from the 24th to the 29th of June 2019. This is the lead up to recognizing Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month in July.
The campaign highlights the need for a global change where all stakeholders (healthcare professionals, women and their families) are better informed about fibroids so they are empowered to take action to improve the health and well being of the many women affected by this condition.
Specifically, organisers are calling for a greater awareness of:
• The symptoms of fibroids to facilitate an early and accurate diagnosis;
• All the treatment/s options available so that women can make an informed decision about the treatment that best suits their situation; and
• What actions women with fibroids can take to improve both their physical, mental and spiritual well being
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or on the outer surface of the womb affecting an estimated 171 million women worldwide in 2013 and, in 2010, fibroids were estimated to cost the health sector in Europe €163 Million (1,2).
Despite being very common it has been shown that there is a low level of awareness of fibroids and women don’t feel equipped to make an informed decision about their treatment (3,6).
Studies have also shown that fibroids are more common in black women with an estimated 80% of black women being affected (4). In addition, black women are known to develop fibroids at a younger age, are more likely to develop larger, multiple fibroids, and tend to develop more severe symptoms (5).
The reason for this is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Compounded experiences of racism and internalised racism are also seen to be contributory factors.
In the 2014 published study title: “Distribution of CYP17α polymorphism and selected physiochemical factors of uterine leiomyoma in Barbados” the authors stated that uterine leiomyoma (fibroids) is “the fifth leading cause of hospitalisations in women of reproductive age for gynaecological conditions unrelated to pregnancy”(7).
Fibroids tend to be overlooked because they are not life-threatening, but fibroids can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life leading to both physical and psychosocial effects. It’s important that a greater focus is placed on fibroids to ensure that more research is conducted to fully understand this important women’s health issue, and to ensure that more support and information is available that empowers all women with fibroids.
Julia Mandeville, Public Health and Advocacy Manager, Barbados Association of Endometriosis and P.C.O.S explained that:
“Women’s health has not received the level of attention warranted. We stand now, as a collective, understanding that the gaps in women’s health care can lead to significant public health problems if left unaddressed. One such problem is the lack of awareness and education surrounding menstruation and menstrual health disorders which research has shown, negatively impacts the psychological, physical, social and financial wellbeing of those diagnosed with these conditions. Thus, it is critical that women and girls are equipped with relevant, evidence-based information to become more competent and confident advocates of their health, and obtain the resources and treatments needed to improve their health-related quality of life.“
Abi Begho, Founder of Lake Health and Wellbeing, based in St Kitts and Nevis said:
“For too long women with fibroids have been neglected and it’s time for society to step up and address this. We need to ensure that women with fibroids have easy access to accurate information, appropriate support and a high standard of care to improve their wellbeing.”
Whilst Dr Sydney Dillard, Associate Professor at Du Paul University stated:
“Throughout the world fibroids tend to be trivialised without a real appreciation for the way fibroids can impact a women’s quality of life. The impact is wide-reaching affecting women’s physical health, mental wellbeing, relationships and creating challenges in the work environment. By everyone being better informed we can ensure early diagnosis; prompt, appropriate treatment and the chance to adequately address the psychosocial impact of fibroids.”
The organisers behind this campaign are encouraging women to access more information by visiting the campaign page and to contact the organisations in their region if they would like further support.
Other Participating Organizations
1. Theo, V., et al. (2015). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet 386 (9995), pp. 743-800
2. Hunt, P., Sathyanarayana, S., Fowler, P. and Trasande, L. (2016). Female Reproductive Disorders, Diseases, and Costs of Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 101(4), pp.1562-1570.
3. Lake Health and Wellbeing (formerly known as The Lake Foundation), (2014). Understanding the Needs of Women With Fibroids.
4. Wise, L. and Laughlin-Tommaso, S. (2016). Epidemiology of Uterine Fibroids. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 59(1), pp.2-24.
5. Radmila S., et al. (2016). Epidemiology of Uterine Myomas: A Review. Int J Fertil Steril, Volume 9 (4), pp. 424.
6. All-Party Parliamentary Group of Women’s Health, (2017). Informed Choice? Giving Women Control of Their Healthcare.
7. Alleyne, A. T., Austin, S., & Williams, A. (2014). Distribution of CYP17α polymorphism and selected physiochemical factors of uterine leiomyoma in Barbados. Meta gene, 2, 358–365. doi:10.1016/j.mgene.2014.03.006