Uterine fibroids are benign growths that show up on the uterus most often during childbearing years. Many women will get them at some point in their lives, and will often not even know it. Fibroids may be small and present no symptoms, and shrink on their own. In other cases, they may cause mild to serious symptoms that require medical intervention to maintain a healthy quality of life. Uterine fibroids rarely lead to cancer, and are not considered a risk factor for uterine cancer.
In any case, uterine fibroids are quite common, and they may lead to other serious health issues, so veterans who suffer from them should understand their options for pursuing VA disability benefits, in case their service history had any hand in causing or worsening their condition.
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Uterine Fibroids
There isn’t a clear cause of uterine fibroids, but research has shown that certain factors may play a role, like genetic changes, increased hormones like estrogen and progesterone, or the presence of other growth factors, including substances that maintain body tissues or extracellular matrix (ECM), which makes cells adhere to one another.
Risk factors do, however, play a role in your likelihood of developing uterine fibroids. Black women are most likely to develop fibroids, often at a younger age, and often with more severe symptoms. Heredity determines your likelihood of developing them, as does obesity, vitamin D deficiency, alcohol consumption, and diets heavy in red meat and low on fruits and vegetables.
Symptoms, if present, often include the following:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Periods that last longer than a week
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
Uterine fibroids are often found during routine pelvic exams, but may also be found in imaging tests. If no symptoms are apparent, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting, which amounts to no needed treatment at the time. Treatment for symptom-causing fibroids include medications, a non-invasive procedure using an MRI, or minimally invasive or traditional surgical methods.
Seeking VA Disability Compensation for Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are rated under Diagnostic Code 7613 38 C.F.R. § 4.116 in the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities. It isn’t mentioned by name, meaning it’s given an analogous rating under General Rating Formula for Disease, Injury, or Adhesions of Female Reproductive Organs. Ratings are symptoms-based and go from 0-30% as follows:
- 30% Rating: Symptoms not controlled by continuous treatment
- 10% Rating: Symptoms that require continuous treatment
- 0% Rating: Symptoms that do not require continuous treatment
Since the cause of uterine fibroids is hard to pin down, you will need to provide a medical nexus linking your current diagnosis for fibroids to your service history. This means that your doctor must provide evidence that something that occurred during your time in military service is directly linked to the origin or worsening of your uterine fibroids. Once you file your claim, VA will likely schedule a Compensation and Pension Examination, or C&P exam, to further investigate your claim.
If you’re able to gain a disability rating for fibroids, you may also be eligible for a secondary service connection if your fibroids are the cause of another condition, such as anemia, infertility, or something that requires a hysterectomy. This would once again require strong medical evidence linking your fibroids to the second condition, in addition to the evidence linking your fibroids to your military service.
TDIU and Uterine Fibroids
If your uterine fibroids are rated high enough, you may also be eligible for total disability individual unemployability (TDIU), which provides you with a 100% disability rating if your condition(s) deprives you of the ability to work. Veterans may be eligible for TDIU if they have a single disability rating of 60%, or a combined rating of two conditions adding up to 70% wherein one condition is rated at least 40%. So for instance, if your uterine fibroids are rated at the maximum 30%, you would need another condition rated at 40% to be eligible for TDIU.
Assistance With Your Claim
Uterine fibroids can be a source of discomfort for many people, and they have the potential to lead to more serious consequences as well, which is why veterans who suffer from them won’t want to miss out on the chance to receive disability compensation from VA if their condition can be linked to their service history. If your fibroids have been diagnosed and may be linked to your service history, especially if they are presenting symptoms and affecting your quality of life, act now.
VA Disability Group PLLC is ready to help you with your claim or appeal for uterine fibroid-related disability benefits. Simply call 844-VET-LAWS or contact us online to start the process and get you the compensation your deserve.