The costs associated with uterine fibroids, a very common condition, are much higher than originally understood, says Dr. James H. Segars of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland.
Approximately 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of African-American women develop uterine fibroids by the age of 50.
These noncancerous growths in the uterus are linked to heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, and abdominal or lower back pain. It may also increase the risk of fertility problems or pregnancy complications such as miscarriage.
To treat the condition, women may opt for surgery or other methods to remove the fibroids. The removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is the most common choice. Painkillers and hormonal therapies may also be used to manage symptoms in some cases.
Treatment and related costs of uterine fibroids total between $6 and $34 billion a year in the U.S., according to Dr. Segars and his team. Of that amount, days away from work were the biggest cost, resulting in a whopping loss of up to $17 billion annually. Treatments cost as much as $9 billion, and pregnancy complications up to $8 billion.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, are based on recent studies and data from national databases.
No one has yet discovered by uterine fibroids occur in the first place.