09 Sep Why Don’t We Discuss Uterine Fibroids?
I don’t know exactly how long I waited before I got fed up with my Fibroid symptoms and sought out medical advice, but I endured heavy bleeding, severe cramps, anemia, and a list of other symptoms for years before I eventually gave in. Studies show that women live with Fibroid symptoms for an average of 3 years before they ever make an appointment to discuss the situation with a doctor. Despite how common Fibroids are among women (3 out of 4 women will develop one or more Fibroids in their lifetime) it’s often not a popular topic amongst the other list of women’s health issues.
My question: Why is something so common amongst women, never talked about? Well, I have a few theories, hear me out…
- We think it’s normal– We have normalized the concept of heavy menstrual bleeding and painful cramps as just being the plight of a woman. However, the reality is that a normal menstruation cycle shouldn’t be agonizing. A normal menstruation cycle shouldn’t cause a woman to take time off work, or be so daunting that she dreads it from month to month. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of so many women. I had gotten to the point where my cramps would stop me in my tracks and bring me to tears, but for some reason, I had convinced myself that every woman shared the same experience as me. It wasn’t until my symptoms expanded to prolonged bleeding and bleeding in between periods (imagine bleeding for multiple weeks at a time) that I began to suspect that something was actually wrong with me.
- Secrecy – Having discussions about our periods is typically a no-no. It’s considered private, and often times treated as a dirty little secret. As girls, we’re conditioned not to discuss it, so lack of discussion leaves millions of women figuring things out alone. When I made a post on Instagram following my open myomectomy, I was shocked by the response. Almost instantly, I began receiving comments, DM’s and text messages from women I know that had also recently had the surgery. I was so shocked by the number of women I knew personally that suffered from the same thing as me. I was even more shocked to realize that I may have never known about their experiences if I hadn’t made my post. From a logical standpoint, that makes perfect sense, if over 80% of women suffer from fibroids, of course I know some of them personally. Statistically, it’s almost inevitable, but for some reason it didn’t truly register how pervasive uterine fibroids are until I started hearing the stories of my friends.
- Lack of Education – Simply put, we need better education around reproductive health. The more women understand about menstruation and their bodies, the better equipped we’ll be to partner with our physicians in determining our best treatment options. Nobody knows your body like you do, so the more we improve health literacy and awareness around the topic, the better positioned each patient becomes to advocate for their own health.
Ladies, we’ve got to do better for ourselves! Uterine Fibroids are manageable and treatable, so none of us should be forced to deal with the symptoms they cause. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I listed above (or feel like anything with your body is off balance) I beg you to see a health care professional. It’s your responsibility to be a champion for your own good health!