How many women are affected by uterine fibroids?
Estimates suggest that 80% percent of African American women and 70% of white women may have fibroids in their lifetimes.1 Some may have no symptoms. However, hundreds of thousands of women seek treatment for fibroids each year. Ultimately, about 200,000 women each year choose to have surgery to treat fibroids by removing their uterus.2
However, research shows that over 90% women who are newly diagnosed with fibroids will seek medical or surgical treatment for the condition within a year of the diagnosis.3,4 In 2000, more than 250,000 hospital admissions were related to uterine fibroids. Every year, fibroids lead to more than 200,000 hysterectomies (pronounced hiss-tur-EK-toh-meez), or removal of the uterus.2
Uterine fibroids affect not only the women who have them but also their partners, spouses, and families. By the age of menopause, almost 90% of African American women may be affected with fibroids, and the disease occurs at an earlier age in African American women.
Who gets and is at risk for uterine fibroids?
Fibroids usually grow in women of childbearing age. The Among U.S. women ages 25 to 44, about 30% have symptoms of fibroids.2 Affected African American women are more likely to have more than one fibroid in the uterus.5 We don't know exactly how many new cases of fibroids occur in a year, but clearly millions of women have fibroids at any one time in the US.
There have been reports of rare cases in which young girls, who have not yet started their periods (prepubertal), had small fibroids. African American women's risk of fibroids is about three times that of white women. Fibroids also typically develop at a younger age, grow larger, and cause more severe symptoms in African American women.6 Fibroids may shrink after menopause, in white women, but may continue to grow after the menopause in black women.
Several factors affect a woman's risk for having uterine fibroids.2
Factors that increase risk of fibroids:
- Age older than 40 years
- African American race
- Family history of uterine fibroids
- High blood pressure
- No history of pregnancy
Factors that lower risk of fibroids:
Figure 1. Graph showing Black and white women's chances of having more than one leiomyoma, by age. African American women's risk of fibroids is about three times that of white women. The disparity increases with age. Black women younger than 30 are have a slightly higher than 20% chance of having more than one uterine fibroid, whereas white women of that age group's chances of doing so are slightly less than 20%. Black women ages 30 to 34 have about a 50% chance of having more than one uterine fibroid, while white women ages 30 to 34 still have a slightly less than 20% chance of doing so. Among black women ages 35 and older, the likelihood of having more than one uterine fibroid is nearly 60%, while the chances of white women 35 and older having more than one fibroid is just slightly more than 20%.
- Baird, D. D., Dunson, D. B., Hill, M. C., Cousins, D., & Schectman, J. M. (2003). High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 188, 100–107. [top]
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). (2007). Management of uterine fibroids: An update of the evidence (AHRQ Publication No. 07-E011). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from http://archive.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/uterupdate/uterup.pdf (PDF - 343 KB) [top]
- Hartmann, K. E., Birnbaum, H., Ben-Hamadi, R., Wu, E. Q., Farrell, M. H., Spalding, J., et al. (2006). Annual costs associated with diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 108, 930–937. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2006/10000/Self_Reported_Heavy_Bleeding_Associated_With.17.aspx [top]
- Carls, G. S., Lee, D. W., Ozminkowski, R. J., Wang, S., Gibson, T. B., & Stewart, E. (2008). What are the total costs of surgical treatment for uterine fibroids? Journal of Women's Health, 17, 1119–1132. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2008.0456 [top]
- Laughlin, S. K., Baird, D. D., Savitz, D. A., Herring, A. H., & Hartmann, K. E. (2009). Prevalence of uterine leiomyomas in the first trimester of pregnancy: An ultrasound-screening study. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 113, 630–635. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/fulltext/2009/03000/prevalence_of_uterine_leiomyomas_in_the_first.10.aspx [top]
- AHRQ. (2007). Management of uterine fibroids: An update of the evidence (AHRQ Publication No. 07-E011). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from http://archive.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/uteruptp.htm [top]