While uterine fibroids are usually not life-threatening, they can be very painful and give rise to secondary complications. Technically, they are benign tumors - meaning non-cancerous - that form on the uterine walls, leading to changes in size, deformations and/or anomalies within the organ.
Typical examples of complications caused by uterine fibroids include severe abdominal pain and excessive menstrual bleeding. It is estimated by the Office of Women’s Health that anywhere to 20-80% of all women over 50 may, at some point, struggle with these issues. For reasons not fully understood, uterine fibroids seem to be three times as prevalent among black women, compared to white women.
The reason why this problem is not widely researched yet is because it is usually associated with menstrual pain, and as such is often regarded as a normal problem in a woman’s life. The typical approach to treat fibroid tumors or other issues like endometriosis is through removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) which is normally done as a last resort, since it’s a tricky surgery that sometimes can just as well give rise to secondary complications.
Marshall LM, Spiegelman D, Barbieri RL, et al, “Variation in the incidence of uterine leiomyoma among premenopausal women by age and race,” Obstetrics & Gynecology 1997; 90(6): 967-73.