July is Fibroids Awareness Month. Some folks may not know what fibroids are, let alone believe there’s a whole month dedicated to raising awareness about these very annoying tumors that affect about 80% of all women, but more specifically, disproportionately affects black women. Well, as a matter of fact, it’s a good thing that there is a month dedicated to understanding fibroids.
By definition, fibroids, also called uterine myomas, leiomyomas, or fibromas, are non-cancerous benign tumors that can grow in a woman’s uterus during childbearing age. Scientists and doctors are still unsure of what causes fibroids and there has been no real consensus of ways to prevent them. It’s believed that many women will develop fibroids at some point in their lives, but African American women are three to five times more likely to develop fibroids; develop multiple fibroids; and develop larger fibroids than women of any other race/ethnicity. It’s bad enough we already have a number of other health issues, we now have to add fibroids to the list. Well knowledge is power!
As a black woman who has been painfully affected by fibroids, I felt the need to create a space where other black women could come together and share their stories about fibroids. On July 14th-during Fibroids Awareness Month-that idea became reality. Sip and Chats: Fibroids became an event space where black women came together to hear each other’s stories about fibroids; learn about the different fibroid treatment options; and discuss how lifestyle modifications can play a role in decreasing/eliminating fibroids. Sip and Chat: Fibroids featured an all black female panel including a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist (OB/GYN); a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner; a registered Dietitian Nutritionist; and the FoundHer & CEO of BUPeriod, a lifestyle brand empowering women through menstrual health.
The women who attended Sip and Chat: Fibroids were brave enough to share stories including experiencing a miscarriage due to fibroids; aborting fibroids; having 22 fibroids; having fibroids the size of grapefruits; complications associated with fibroid removal surgery; and navigating lifestyle modifications that could promote a better quality of life. The idea to have women share their life experiences, promoted a sense of togetherness. I wanted black women to know that other black women were going through the same health issues and that we don’t have to be secretive about our health problems. As I looked around the room, I saw women taking notes; attentively listening; and nodding their heads at the accounts shared by these women.
I can say my first event hosting Sip and Chat: Fibroids was a success! My panelist provided vital information that equipped black women with education to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Black women had a space to share their stories without shame and a few black men learned, in a bit more detail, about how fibroids especially affect us. The key points I would like to highlight are the following:
If you have fibroids that are painful or causes painful periods, speak to your OB/GYN about what treatment options are best for you
Be familiar with the medical terminology used by your OB/GYN to describe your fibroids
Ask as many questions as necessary to be sure you understand the content
Modifying your lifestyle can help promote better management of fibroids
Don’t be afraid to talk to other women about what you’re going through
Education is key, and I hope everyone who attended this event learned a thing or two about fibroids! To learn more about fibroids, check out the Office of Women’s health for more information: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids
Health is Wealth!
Kemi Bolutayo Gaffney, MA, CHES
Kemi is a Guest Contributor for Cupcake Noire and Certified Health Education Specialist, focused on eliminating health disparities. She became interested in educating black women about fibroids when learning about the complications related to fibroid removal surgery from a number of different black women. Her mission is to help black women understand the prevalence of fibroids and different ways to prevent them. Kemi hopes to equip black women with tools to begin a serious conversation about the effects of fibroids on our quality of life.