Women’s Health and Fibroids: How Perception Has Evolved Over the Years
Posted byChristine Yu
You may know that fibroids affect a lot of women. In fact, the Office of Women’s Health estimates that up to 80 percent of women will develop these muscular tumors in the wall of their uterus by the time they’re 50 years old.1
But how long have women been dealing with fibroids and how has the perception changed over the years? Here’s a quick history lesson.
The Evolution of Fibroids
Since ancient times, women have had growths in the pelvic region, which the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates referred to as “uterine stones.” During Medieval times, women with uterine tumors were accused of possessing devil spirits, according to the journal Clinics.2 It wasn’t until the 1860s that the term fibroid was introduced by Karl von Rokitansky and M.M. Klob. Then, when German pathologist Virchow discovered that fibroids came from smooth muscle cells, he coined the term myoma, which is the clinical term still used today, according to a chapter in Interventional Radiology in Women’s Health.3
Previously, little was known about how to treat fibroids. The first laparotomy, a surgical procedure, for a myoma was performed in 1809 on Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford, a cousin of President Abraham Lincoln.2 Then in 1845, the first successful myomectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the fibroids while preserving the uterus) was reported originally in the American Journal of Medical Science.4
Advances in Understanding Fibroids
Thankfully, there have been many advances in health that have changed the way that fibroids are handled. As doctors and researchers recognize that fibroids affect many women, they’ve invested in more research to understand how fibroids develop and grow. For example, the National Institutes of Health conducts and funds research on uterine fibroids and organizes conferences for scientists to discuss their findings. 5 Science is still working on our understanding of these muscular tumors, but your doctor is armed with far more information than before.
More to Learn
While researchers have come a long way, there’s still a lot to learn. Ongoing research is focused on better understanding the condition, and nationwide initiatives like Fibroid Awareness Month and the White Dress Project are empowering women to speak out and seek professional medical advice.
1“Uterine fibroids.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. February 6, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids
2Bozini, Nilo and Baracat, Edmund C. “The History of Myomectomy at the Medical School of University of Sao Paulo.” Clinics, 2007; 62(3). http://www.scielo.br/pdf/clin/v62n3/a02v62n3.pdf
3Siskin, Gary P. “Clinical Review: Uterine Leiomyomas.” Interventional Radiology in Women’s Health. 2009. https://books.google.com/books?id=VqrcAp0ELwgC&lpg=PA27&ots=uMvdfJ9xat&dq=virchow%20demonstrated%20leiomyomas&pg=PA27#v=onepage&q=virchow%20demonstrated%20leiomyomas&f=false
4Milton, Sarah Hagood, M.D. “Gynecologic Myomectomy.” Medscape. December 28, 2015. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/267677-overview#a5
5“Uterine Fibroids.” National Institutes of Health, Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. https://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/viewfactsheet.aspx?csid=50
- Posted by Christine Yu
- On July 24, 2017