Compensation was provided by Hologic via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hologic or Momtrends.
Earlier this year, I made it one of my goals to start making myself a priority. I’m always so focused on taking care of everyone else – running a household, working and everything in between, that I put my health and my own needs on the backburner. When I talked with some of my girlfriends about my new plan, I learned that I wasn’t alone.
Most of the women I talked to also found it difficult to make themselves a priority because they have so much on their plate every day. One of the biggest areas we all seemed to struggle with was our health – the most important thing we need to take care of.
After all, how can we take care of anyone else if we’re not taking care of ourselves first and foremost?
Whether it’s the stigma associated with talking about personal health issues or just finding the time to address things that may not be right, it can sometimes feel “easy” for women to ignore their health – especially when talking about “down there.” But we have the power to be our own best health advocates when equipped with the right information.
That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Change the Cycle, an online community where women who suffer from uterine and pelvic health conditions can find resources that promote a better understanding of their condition and potential solutions.
Advocating for our health starts with knowing our bodies – and that means knowing what’s considered normal versus abnormal when it comes to your menstrual cycle. The uterus plays a critical role in menstrual and reproductive health, but we are not always informed about potential issues or abnormalities we should be looking out for. As someone who’s struggled with heavy periods, I can totally relate to this. I now know millions (yes, millions!) of other women struggle with the same symptoms as me. We’re not in this alone, so let’s talk about it.
There are a number of conditions that can affect a woman’s uterine health like uterine fibroids or abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) that can cause pain, heavy bleeding and fertility issues. While common, these conditions are often not discussed, and women wait years to seek medical attention as a result. This should never be the case. Women should never wait years to address health issues, no matter how big or small they may *appear* to be.
The first step in becoming your own health advocate? Get the facts.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Many women face symptoms like heavy bleeding and pain as a result of fibroids, which are typically noncancerous growths in the uterus. I was really surprised to learn how common and painful they can be! How much do you know about fibroids? Just take a look at some of these statistics:
- Up to 80 percent of women will experience fibroids by the age of 50.2
- African American women are three times more likely to experience fibroids than women of other races.3
- Fibroid symptoms can include, heavy bleeding, periods lasting more than a week, frequent urination, pelvic pressure or pain, difficulty emptying bladder, constipation, and backaches or leg pains.1
- Many women assume their only option is to undergo a hysterectomy, (200K women in the U.S. undergo hysterectomy to treat fibroids annually4), but there are effective alternatives for treating fibroids that are safe and marginally invasive.5
Crazy, right? It shocked me this wasn’t common knowledge. We should be talking about problems like fibroids to help normalize them, and encourage women to feel more empowered to address these issues with their doctor!
What is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB)?
Another issue that affects women’s health dramatically is abnormal uterine bleeding, or simply put, heavy periods. AUB can exist on its own, in the absence of fibroids or other uterine health conditions. It also affects 1 in 5 women6, so it’s likely you know someone who’s suffering from heavy periods. Here are some stats on how AUB can affect women:
- Heavy periods not only keep women from living their life to the fullest, but can impact their health and wellbeing by causing nausea, cramping and in some cases, anemia.6
- 81 percent of women find that their heavy period is disruptive to their sex life7
- 66 percent feel exhausted when their period is at its heaviest7
- On average, women with abnormal uterine bleeding experience their period for 14 days a month7
- Women with abnormal uterine bleeding miss 1.5 days of work/school every cycle = that’s 18 days a year on average.7
Not only do women with AUB or fibroids experience pain and discomfort, but their symptoms can start taking control over their lives. These are women just like us – busy with work, school, family – but their heavy periods are actually preventing them from living life fully. While uterine health may not always be top of mind, we need to take a breath from our busy lives to pay attention to what is happening in our bodies – and how it is impacting our quality of life.
Visit www.changethecycle.com today to learn more about below-the-belt health issues that affect women. If you think you might be experiencing AUB or fibroids, take this symptom checker quiz to help you identify your symptoms and start an informed conversation with your doctor, so you can take back your health!
1. Uterine fibroids: Overview. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/home/ovc-20212509. Accessed April 25, 2017.
2. Uterine Fibroid Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed April 27, 2017.
3. Stewart EA, Nicholson WK, Bradley L, Borah BJ. The Burden of Uterine Fibroids for African-American Women: Results of a National Survey. Journal of Women’s Health. 2013;22(10):807-816. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4334.
4. Uterine Fibroids. National Institutes of Health. https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=50. Accessed May 30, 2018.
5. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Fibroids: Treatment. U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-conditions/sexual-health/fibroids/treatment. Accessed May 20, 2018.
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heavy menstrual bleeding. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/ women/menorrhagia.html. Accessed April 07, 2017
7. Hologic, Inc. Data on File; AUB Patient Journey Research, conducted January 2017. Survey of 1,003 women who self-identified as currently or recently experiencing heavy bleeding with need to change feminine hygiene product every hour or more.