July is Fibroid Awareness Month, an important time dedicated to spreading awareness and education about how uterine fibroids affect the body. Did you know that up to 80% of women develop fibroids by age 50? With such a large portion of the population affected by fibroids, it’s vital that we get involved as a community to better understand treatment options, fund research for new treatments, and provide resources. Wondering how you can advocate for such an important cause? Read on to find out.
What are uterine fibroids?
Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus. While some women with fibroids never experience symptoms, many do. Common symptoms include:
- Painful periods, including heavy or inconsistent menstrual bleeding
- Debilitating cramps, pelvic pain, and pressure
- Pain during sex
- Fatigue and weakness
- Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
- Back or leg pain
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Constipation, diarrhea, and rectum discomfort
Learn more about what fibroids are here.
What is Fibroid Awareness Month?
Despite the prevalence of fibroids, it isn’t uncommon to be met with confusion when the subject is brought up. With so much misinformation circulating regarding women’s health, especially reproductive health, it’s no surprise that fibroids are commonly ignored or misunderstood.
Fibroid Awareness Month was created with one chief goal: to empower women to share their stories and break down the stigma associated with fibroids. Since its inception, many other organizations have become involved, fighting for better education, resources, and awareness. Throughout the month of July, organizations and individuals are encouraged to speak up about their fibroid experiences to let other women know that they aren’t alone.
Several states now recognize Fibroid Awareness Month, but it’s not yet recognized at a national level. One aspect of advocacy is encouraging federal legislation to be passed in order to reach as many women as possible.
How can I get involved?
Ready to be an advocate? Look no further than supporting the causes of these great organizations.
The White Dress Project
Because fibroids are often associated with heavy menstrual bleeding, many women opt not to wear white clothing, but the White Dress Project aims to change that. As one of the most visible non-profit advocates for fibroid awareness, the White Dress Project campaigns for and donates to enhanced fibroid research and awareness. By sponsoring education programs, they seek to end the stigma surrounding women’s health. They are also involved with encouraging legislative change regarding fibroids. The White Dress Project offers events all month long for women with fibroids.
Ask4UFE is an educational patient-awareness program for uterine fibroids and alternative treatment options, mainly uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive alternative to surgery. By bringing valuable information to afflicted women and their families, Ask4UFE promotes self-advocacy when it comes to an individual’s health. In the past, the standard method of care for fibroids included surgical procedures, such as a hysterectomy or myomectomy. In some cases, these options may still be the right treatment, but Ask4UFE believes women should understand all available treatment options regarding their personal care. Learn more about whether you could be a candidate for UFE and find answers to many of your questions on the Ask4UFE blog.
The Fibroid Foundation
The Fibroid Foundation fosters a global community of fibroid patients and seeks to amplify the voices of women living with this condition. Their programs, initiatives, and partnerships help directly reach patients with resources and support. As a patient-founded organization, their outreach focuses on the lived experiences of women with fibroids.
Care About Fibroids
With the goal of empowering more informed patients, care providers, and decision makers in the health care sector, Care About Fibroids serves as an educational resource on uterine fibroids for all stakeholders. They work to promote increased investment for research into new treatments and take action to increase public awareness. Additionally, they help support a community of women affected by fibroids.
Where can I go to learn more?
While Ask4UFE and organizations like it are great resources for learning about fibroids, it takes a full community to ensure women understand their condition and have access to the treatment option that best suits their needs. Explore the following resources to help you better understand fibroids:
- Department of HHS Office on Women’s Health Uterine Fibroids Fact Sheet provides answers to frequently asked questions about fibroids.
- NIH Fact Sheet on Uterine Fibroids Research describes advances and future directions in research on uterine fibroids.
- National Uterine Fibroid Foundation
This nonprofit organization is dedicated to assisting women who are affected by fibroids.
The MedlinePlus page on uterine fibroids includes information and links to additional resources.
You may also consider joining a support group for women affected by fibroids.
Ultimately, it is up to every individual woman to make a personal, educated decision concerning her fibroid care. Our hope is that by providing resources and promoting accessibility to a variety of treatment options, women will feel empowered to make that choice. We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider or gynecologist to discuss treatment plans.