Fibroids take psychological, not just physical, toll

Fibroids may be considered benign tumors — but that doesn’t mean they’re completely harmless.

woman stress bathtub

Uterine fibroids take a considerable psychological toll

Scientists from Northwestern University presented research at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine that explored the considerable psychological toll that uterine fibroids take on patients.

The researchers recruited 48 women suffering from symptomatic uterine fibroids to explore the emotional and psychological toll the disease takes on patients. Their reactions included general worry, fear, sadness, anxiety and depression.

Over half the women felt helpless, believing they had no control over the fibroids, or the unpredictable, sometimes heavy, menstrual flow which the fibroids can trigger. Only two of the 48 women reported they were getting care from a mental health professional.

There was also a racial dimension to the experience of fibroid patients. Nearly all the women, regardless of race, expressed concerns about the treatment options that were presented to them. African American women were more likely to express an aversion to surgery and were more likely to report a difficult recovery following surgery.

“The mental health toll of uterine fibroids is important, but, up to now, has been poorly understood,” says Kurt Barnhart, MD, President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. “This study will help us better meet the needs of our patients.”

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