Fibroids Take Psychological, Not Just Physical, Toll

Painful fibroids also cause psychological pain for women who suffer with uterine fibroids.

October 21 , 2014
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release

Honolulu, Hawaii – 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. This study will help us better meet the needs of our patients,” said Kurt Barnhart, MD, President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

P-329 MS Ghant et al, “Beyond the Physical: A Qualitative Assessment of the Emotional Burden of Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids on Women’s Mental Health”

P-450 MS Ghant et al, “Great Expectations: A Qualitative Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Differences in Women’s Treatment Experiences with Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids.”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of more than 7,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology. Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.