Black mom and daughters laugh on couchShare on Pinterest
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that may develop in the uterus. They’re sometimes known as leiomyomas or myomas.

Uterine fibroids can affect any woman of reproductive age, but Black women are more likely than others to develop them. Black women also tend to experience more severe symptoms.

Experts don’t know exactly what causes uterine fibroids. Some research suggests that making healthy lifestyle choices might help lower the chance of developing them. For example, it may be helpful to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy weight.

Uterine fibroids may range in size, from very small to large masses. It’s possible to have multiple uterine fibroids at the same time.

In many cases, uterine fibroids cause no noticeable symptoms, but for some people, they can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and other symptoms, such as:

  • prolonged menstrual periods
  • pelvic pressure or pain
  • frequent need to urinate
  • difficulty emptying bladder
  • constipation
  • backaches
  • leg pain

More research is needed to understand why Black women develop uterine fibroids more often than other women.

Some research suggests that these risk factors might play a role:

  • higher rates of obesity
  • higher rates of vitamin D deficiency
  • more frequent use of hair relaxers
  • inequities in access to healthcare

Explore the infographic below to learn more about how uterine fibroids affect Black women.

Black women tend to develop fibroids more often than women of other races, and often have more severe symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for improving health outcomes in Black women with uterine fibroids.

If you have painful, heavy, or long menstrual periods, let your healthcare provider know. Consider asking them if uterine fibroids might be the cause.

You should also let your healthcare provider know if you develop other potential symptoms of uterine fibroids, such as pelvic pain that doesn’t go away.