What a Md. gynecologic surgeon wants women to know about fibroids

July is Fibroid Awareness Month, and while uterine fibroids are common and most women with them are symptom-free, a Largo, Maryland, doctor wants women to know that if fibroids make their life miserable, it’s not normal.

“Not everybody has painful, heavy, troublesome periods,” said Dr. Alyssa Small Layne, a gynecological surgeon with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group. “There is help. There are treatments available, that are both surgery or non-surgery, that can help with symptoms of fibroids.”

Between 10% and 20% of women have painful fibroids, and often, when there’s a strong family history, women think their experience is normal, and that can lead to delays in getting a diagnosis or care.

Layne said women should seek help if their menstrual cycle lasts longer than seven days, causes them to miss work or life activities, or if they need to replace tampons or pads more than every two hours.

Symptoms of fibroids can include painful sex, lower back pain, frequent urination and reproductive problems.

Risk factors for fibroids include being Black or being overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“By about age 50, about 70% of white women will have at least one fibroid and more than 80% of Black women,” Layne said.

Fibroids that cause severe symptoms should not be ignored.

“They can be troublesome if you’re having such heavy bleeding that it’s causing other concerns such as anemia or low blood counts,” Layne said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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