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Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can form in a woman's uterus. According to estimates, 70 to 80 percent of all American women develop fibroids at some point before they are 50. That is quite a large number, but uterine fibroids are not normally dangerous, and most would agree that having them is a pretty private issue... so, how do these growths affect society at large?

According to a new study, uterine fibroids cost the United States billions of dollars every year. Once you take into account lost work days, treatment of fibroids, and pregnancy complications resulting from these growths, they turn out to be very costly. The women who have fibroids but no symptoms are the lucky ones. Those with symptoms can have heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, bleeding in between periods, and lower back pain.

Uterine fibroids can make conceiving a baby harder, and they can also cause miscarriage and other pregnancy complications, like preterm labor. The study team, led by Dr James H. Segars of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, estimated the cost of uterine fibroids in the US to be between $6 billion and $34 billion annually. The researchers were talking about treatment costs, as well as hidden costs like lost work days. It's a wide range, but even the lower end of the estimate is a lot.

"It's very important to understand the societal costs," Segars pointed out. He added: "This most severely affects the population that's least able to bear the costs." Segars referred to the fact that African American women are much more likely to develop uterine fibroids, and that this same group may have the hardest time making up for lost wages, or affording the cost of treatment for uterine fibroids. Segars said that it was very important to find ways to prevent uterine fibroids.

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