Many of us have been taught to ignore or adapt to the pain we feel during that time of the month because it’s “just something women have to go through.” To a certain extent, that’s true — periods are part of our lives. But when menstruation starts causing so much chaos that we have to remove ourselves from daily activities every month, that’s a cue to get some help.
Uterine fibroids (UF) could be the culprit behind your discomfort. The condition is common, especially in Black women, and doctors can easily diagnose it.

What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine leiomyomas, aka uterine fibroids, are non-cancerous growths that can form in the uterus, most commonly in women in their 30s and 40s up until they reach menopause. The growths can vary in size, quantity and location in the uterus. Fibroids can affect fertility and pregnancy, but that’s not guaranteed. There’s no known cause for fibroids, but factors that can increase the likelihood of developing them include age, family history, weight and ethnicity. Black women are more likely to develop UF at a younger age than Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women. We also experience more severe symptoms and complications from treatment than other ethnic groups.

When should I be concerned?
If your PMS and period have shifted from an annoying inconvenience to a debilitating few days or weeks, you probably need to schedule a gynecologist appointment. Heavy periods, stomach and pelvic pain, digestive issues, pain during sex, anemia, frequent urination, bloating or leg and back pain could be signs of uterine fibroids.

How do I talk to my doctor about it?
Go into the office armed with information about your body and specific questions to ask the doctor. Seriously, log a month’s worth of symptoms in a journal and take it to your appointment. Use this guide to prepare yourself for the visit. The guide includes a quiz you can take, discussion prompts and a downloadable PDF to help you along in the conversation. Hologic, a medical technology company focused on women’s health, provides minimally invasive treatment options to consider and discuss with your health care provider, such as the MyoSure® tissue removal system and the Acessa®  procedure, which are alternatives to a hysterectomy. Your health care provider can explain the risks and benefits of different treatment options to help you decide what’s best for your situation.

MyoSure Tissue Removal System
Doctors use the MyoSure device to perform a myomectomy, or removal of the fibroids, without heavily impacting the uterus. The procedure includes three steps: inserting a small camera into your uterus to locate the fibroid(s), cutting the growth into small pieces and then suctioning it out. Recovery time is a few days. Take a look at how the procedure works.

Acessa Procedure
The Acessa procedure, or laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation (Lap RFA), is a treatment that shrinks the fibroid through the application of heat directly on the fibroid. Lap RFA is a minimally invasive surgery that requires anesthesia and could be a good option for people who aren’t planning on having children. Here are more details about the procedure.

Whatever route you decide to take, please know that you don’t have to keep living with pain from what could be uterine fibroids. Visit the Hologic website to learn more about your options and talk to your doctor about what might be right for you.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Hologic, Inc.