When your flow is too heavy to be easily managed, it is called heavy menstrual bleeding. Heavy menstrual bleeding may be a red flag for a more serious condition.1
Heavy bleeding can impact a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being.3,4 It can make it difficult to do normal activities,3 leading some women to avoid making plans when their period is due. You shouldn’t have to plan your life around your period.
It’s time to raise a red flag around heavy periods that don’t feel normal to you. If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider.
Heavy periods can be caused by a condition affecting the uterus, known as uterine fibroids.5 Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are growths of tissue in and around the uterus. Although they are tumors, uterine fibroids are not cancer.5
Although uterine fibroids can grow without causing symptoms, many women with fibroids will experience symptoms.5 Women with uterine fibroids may have heavy periods or bleed between periods. Fibroids can also cause back pain, b!adder problems, and problems getting pregnant.5 The physical symptoms caused by fibroids often negatively impact a person’s life.4
Understanding what uterine fibroids are and finding your way through the health system can be overwhelming. The Society for Women’s Health Research, a patient advocacy organization, has put together a toolkit, with support from Myovant Sciences and Pfizer, to help you along your journey.
Access the Uterine Fibroids Toolkit: A Patient Empowerment Guide.ACCESS TOOLKIT
Uterine fibroids are quite common; about 7 out of 10 women (70%) will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they reach menopause.9 Fibroids can occur in anyone of reproductive age, although they most commonly affect women between the ages of 30 and 40.10 While uterine fibroids can affect all women, Black women are three times more likely to be affected than white women,9 and they develop fibroids at an earlier age than white women.10 Black women are more likely to have more severe symptoms than white women and are more likely to have fibroids interfere with daily and social life.11
Black Health Matters is working to raise awareness about health disparities in uterine fibroids. Read an article on disparities in uterine fibroids from BlackHealthMatters.com
The Black Women’s Health Imperative advocates for improved health education and research funding to address health disparities in uterine fibroids. Read about their roundtable discussion to address disparaties in uterine fibroid health at bwhi.org
The Center for Black Health & Equity promotes strategies to increase healthcare access and trust among women affected by uterine fibroids. Read their take-home guides about uterine fibroids at CenterForBlackHealth.org. This guide was supported by the Myovant Sciences Forward for Health Equity Grant Program.
1. Heavy menstrual bleeding. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Accessed August 2022. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/heavy-menstrual-bleeding. 2. Menstrual definition. Merriam-Webster. Accessed August 2022. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/menstrual. 3. Hapangama DK, Bulmer JN. Pathophysiology of heavy menstrual bleeding. Womens Health (Lond). 2016;12(1):3-13. doi:10.2217/whe.15.81. 4. Marsh EE, Al-Hendy A, Kappus D, Galitsky A, Stewart EA, Kerolous M. Burden, prevalence, andtreatment of uterine fibroids: a survey of U.S. women. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2018;27(11):1359-1367. doi:10.1089/jwh.2018.7076. 5. Uterine fibroids. NICHD - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Accessed August 2022. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/factsheets/uterine. 6. Global glossary for the global menstrual movement. PERIOD. Accessed August 2022. https://period.org/uploads/Global-Glossary-for-the-Menstrual-Movement-v1.3.pdf. 7. Rose SL. Patient advocacy organizations: institutional conflicts of interest, trust, and trustworthiness. J Law Med Ethics. 2013;41(3):680-687. doi:10.1111/ jlme.12078. 8. Global glossary for the global menstrual movement. PERIOD. Accessed August 2022. https://period.org/uploads/Global-Glossary-for-the-Menstrual-Movement-v1.3.pdf. 9. Stewart EA, Cookson CL, Gandolfo RA, Schulze-Rath R. Epidemiology of uterine fibroids: a systematic review. BJOG. 2017;124(10):1501-1512. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.14640. 10. Uterine fibroids. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Accessed January 2023. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/uterine-fibroids. 11. Stewart EA, Nicholson WK, Bradley L, Borah BJ. The burden of uterine fibroids for African-American women: results of a national survey. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013;22:807-816. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4334.