an alternative to
Carmen learned she had uterine fibroids
during a visit to her gynecologist to
remove an ovarian cyst. “I didn’t think
anything of it at the time,” she said. But
within a few years she developed debilitating
symptoms, including heavy, long and
painful periods. One menstrual cycle even
lasted an entire month.
Latoya’s fibroids impacted life during her
period so much that she had to run to the
bathroom every 45 minutes. “I was afraid
to leave the house,” she said.
For Carmen and Latoya—and the millions
of other women with heavy bleeding
caused by uterine fibroids—normal life
completely disappears and is replaced
with a rigorous regimen of preparation and
In Carmen’s case, she kept what she
called an “arsenal” of feminine products
with her to avoid accidents. On a typical
day of menstruation, she wore a superabsorbency
tampon, two ultra absorbency
maxi-pads, an adult diaper and Spanx®
to hold it all together. “I also had all that
stuff in my bag just in case I had to change,
which was about every hour.”
Uterine Fibroids are Common
About 40 percent of women develop uterine
fibroids by the age of 35, and 70-80%
may develop them by age 50.1 Fibroids can
range from as small as a pea to as large as
a grapefruit in diameter. African American
women are three times more likely to have
them, and they tend to show up earlier than
in women of other ethnicities.
Many women with fibroids do not experience
symptoms, but for others like Carmen
and Latoya they can be unbearable.
Common fibroid symptoms include chronic
pressure and pain, anemia, frequent urination,
incontinence and pain during intercourse.
Fibroids can even lead to infertility
or miscarriage early in pregnancy.
When fibroid symptoms become intolerable,
many women are advised by their gynecologist
to undergo hysterectomy—the
most common treatment for fibroids. But
of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed
in the United States each year, it is now
estimated that 75% of these may be unnecessary.