July Is Fibroid Awareness Month

Did you know that there are more than 2.8 million women in the U.S. diagnosed with uterine fibroids? It’s true. While those may seem like big numbers, there are still many women out there who may not know they have them.

Let’s do a little wellness check right now. At the start of your period, a couple of heavy flow days are totally normal. But if you find yourself avoiding your favorite outfits or going through boxes of super tampons each month, you may have heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) due to uterine fibroids. It’s more common than you think. By age 50, as many as 80% of Black women have had fibroids.

What are fibroids?
It’s good to educate yourself on this condition because larger fibroids can develop at a younger age for Black women—who are three times as likely to be negatively affected by them. According to the Mayo Clinic, uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. The most common symptoms are periods lasting longer than a week, HMB, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying your bladder, constipation, and backache or leg pains.

How do you know if you have fibroids?
If you have HMB and suspect you may have fibroids, start tracking your cycle. Some menstrual cycles are only 21 days while others can last 35 days or more with periods that are two days or up to seven days. Write your days and your symptoms in a planner or use an app. Then, bring it with you to your next doctor visit. You will have all the info you need to talk about what’s best for your body—and ways you can feel better each month.

What are treatments?
There are a lot of non-surgical options available. Common medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain while possibly lightening your period at the same time. These medicines are sometimes called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). They can reduce the amount of prostaglandin—a hormone that causes pain and heavy bleeding—in your uterine lining.

There are also many prescription medications for uterine fibroids that target the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, and treat symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. While they may not eliminate fibroids, they may shrink them.

If uterine fibroids are causing excessive bleeding or other problems, it’s best to talk with your doctor about treatment. So, don’t be afraid to bring it up at your next visit.

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