NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For the first time, July is recognized as Fibroid Awareness Month with a new bill and funding source in Congress.
There are also new medical options available to the millions of women with the condition, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Friday.
It is estimated that 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 have fibroids Benign tumors grow on the wall of the uterus and can be as small as a pea or larger than a grapefruit.
“Think of fibroids as really a chronic disease,” says Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.
Fibroids can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life. They can affect proximity, causing bloating and acute pain.
“The most common symptom of fibroids that patients come in and complain about is heavy menstrual bleeding,” says Al-Hendy.
Al-Hendy adds that a lot of blood loss can also lead to fatigue and anemia.
This past May, a new daily pill called Myfembree was approved by the FDA to reduce heavy bleeding caused by fibroids. Al-Hendy led the study.
“We found that the bleeding was reduced by about 50 per cent in the first month,” he said. “After that, it hit about 85 to 90% very quickly starting the second month.”
Users can use the drug for two years.
Doctors say it is not a cure or suitable for women who want to get pregnant. There are surgical methods that offer hope to women who want to get pregnant.
Dr Charles Ascher-Walsh, chief gynecologist at Mount Sinai Health System, said: “The latest procedure being done for uterine fibroids is called radiofrequency ablation. “It’s basically like putting a needle into a fibroid and delivering an electric current.”
This essentially kills the tissue and shrinks the fibroid. A similar, more invasive version of the endoscopic procedure requires anesthesia.
Tanika Gray Valbrun has had fibroids for nearly 30 years and says they also affected her fertility.
“Last July, my second embryo transfer failed, and I am 43 years old. And I thought to myself: ‘Should I give up? Like, just give it up,” she said.
Valbrun says her difficult medical journey inspired her to create White dress project.
“Our mission is to make sure people understand that they don’t have to suffer in silence with fibroids,” she says.
It is an important resource that provides support, education and awareness.
About one-third of women with fibroids don’t need or don’t need to see a doctor.
For more information on the White Dress Project, CLICK HERE.