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Uterine Fibroids: NICHD Research Goals

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NICHD research efforts related to uterine fibroids address this condition specifically as well as some of the more general aspects of fibroids within the context of improving women's health. Studies include efforts to understand:

  • Epidemiology of uterine fibroids. Researchers estimate that as many as 77% of women of childbearing age could have fibroids without knowing it, although these cases may not all be clinically significant.1 Likewise, certain factors, such as being African American, being older than 40 years of age, being obese, and having never been pregnant increase the risk for fibroids. Some studies also suggest that women who undergo certain types of assistive reproductive technology are at higher risk for fibroids. NICHD research aims to understand the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to or prevent fibroids.
  • Etiology of fibroids. These studies look at altered cell differentiation, tissue hyperproliferation, hormone interaction, cell signaling defects, altered mechanisms, and other topics about some of the general and specific mechanisms and factors that lead to fibroid growth.
  • Treatments for fibroids. Hysterectomy is currently the only sure way to treat fibroids, and fibroids lead to more than 200,000 hysterectomies every year.2 NICHD research is seeking solutions to the symptoms of fibroids that don't require removal of the uterus, such as medication and other mechanical means that leave the uterus (and a woman's fertility) intact. Some of the more cutting-edge technologies include gene therapy and MRI-guided laser therapies.
  • Clinical challenges of fibroids. Uterine fibroids and fibroid symptoms pose challenges not only to clinicians who provide ongoing treatment to affected women but also to clinical researchers who are studying the causes and course of fibroids in humans. NICHD research aims to bring advances in technology and clinical research to examine the problem of uterine fibroids.

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). (2007). Management of uterine fibroids: An update of the evidence (AHRQ Publication No. 07-E011). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from (PDF - 343 KB). [top]
  2. AHRQ. (2005). The FIBROID Registry: Report of structure, methods, and initial results (AHRQ Publication No. 05[06]-RG008). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from [top]

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