Uterine fibroids affect millions of women causing anywhere from minor discomfort to infertility, miscarriage, heavy periods and anemia, pain, and other debilitating symptoms. For years, women have suffered in silence, embarrassed or unwilling to talk about their condition.
Fibroids can affect anyone, even celebrities. Not surprisingly, a number of female celebrities including Cynthia Bailey, Teresa Edwards, Beverly Johnson, Erin Robinson, Bethenny Frankel, FKA Twigs, and others have come forward sharing their stories and struggles with uterine fibroids. Several of these celebrities have started campaigns to help with fibroid awareness and get conversations started so women will know there is support and help for them besides surgery.
Women Suffer Silently – Fibroids and Surgery
Many women reach a point of desperation as their symptoms are too much to bear anymore, and they are told by their OB-GYN that their only option is to undergo one of two surgical procedures: myomectomy or a hysterectomy.
- A myomectomy is a procedure where some of the tumors are surgically removed through an incision either open like a c-section or laparoscopic and then your uterus is sewn back together in the places where the tumors were removed.
- A hysterectomy is the other surgical procedure where your entire uterus is removed, and sometimes your ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed. Hormone replacement therapy would more than likely be necessary for the years that follow, which can bring with it undesired side effects. This has prompted a number of women who suffered from fibroids and underwent hysterectomy that the “cure” was worse than the disease.
For years, there has been little or no information available about fibroids, how common they are, or what options there are for treatment. Many women were suffering from them but no one was talking to each other. Thanks to the technology of today and how connected we can be with each other through our devices, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube are overflowing with information right at our fingertips.
Fibroids Have No Respect For Women
Here are some stories that have been shared by celebrities about their experience with fibroid tumors.
When American supermodel, reality television star, and business entrepreneur Cynthia was pregnant with her daughter in 2000, she discovered she had uterine fibroids. She had not shown any symptoms of fibroids up until then except very heavy menstrual bleeding. She said she felt that she could control this at first, but as time went on, her periods got heavier and heavier and had bloating. She also experienced pelvic pain and pressure, felt like she had to urinate all the time, and having sex was painful.
During an episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”, Cynthia Bailey revealed that her enlarged fibroids also made her crave the strangest things “like chalk” and it also made her “addicted to chewing ice”. Anemia is a common symptom of fibroids due to blood loss and these cravings are very indicative of anemia.
After years of dealing with all these horrible symptoms, two significant things happened that propelled her to seek some help. She was at an event for BRAVO and when she stood up from dinner to leave the event, she felt a rush of blood. It was so heavy that it was running down her legs as she tried to return to her hotel room. Her husband had to call the front desk and let them know that the elevator needed to be cleaned up. She said that people kept trying to stop her as she made her way through the hotel lobby to get a picture with her or ask her something. (Can you even imagine!) The tabloids also reported that she was pregnant after snapping a picture of her bloated tummy (from the fibroids).
Shortly after that, tabloids started to print articles like “No Baby On The Way! Cynthia Bailey Shuts Down Pregnancy Rumor” as she let them in on the status of her health. By the time this incident happened, she was suffering from anemia, fatigue, and her fibroids were even affecting her marriage. She knew with her busy lifestyle, and her quality of life suffering, she could no longer try to handle the pain and stress alone.
Cynthia Bailey found Dr. John Lipman of Atlanta Fibroid Center and underwent a UFE procedure. Her quality of life has improved dramatically with all her symptoms eliminated. She said that her only regret is not doing it sooner.
Through her journey with fibroids, she realized that women with fibroids are suffering in silence. She called it “a dirty little secret”. She said so many women are in pain and dealing with these debilitating symptoms but no one is talking about it. She decided to take her story public to raise awareness in an effort to help other women who have fibroids. She documented her UFE journey through writing and television appearances. She encourages women dealing with fibroid symptoms to get help and stop suffering. An online article from BRAVO written by Cynthia Bailey states:
“Why I chose Dr. Lipman to help me get my life back? Dr. Lipman is a pioneer in the development of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) and is an active participant in clinical research trials that have helped demonstrate the safety and efficacy of UFE as a treatment for uterine fibroids. Being on the forefront of this great procedure, Dr. Lipman also has one of the largest UFE experience in the world…” Cynthia Bailey
Teresa Edwards, a University of Georgia graduate, former women’s basketball player, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and listed in Sports Illustrated magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century” suffered from fibroids. She started suffering from fibroids in her thirties and just had resigned herself to the fact that she would probably have to have a hysterectomy as her mother did.
She started suffering from fibroids in her thirties and just had resigned herself to the fact that she would probably have to have a hysterectomy as her mother did. She suffered from bloating, heavy periods that lasted a long time, and then developed anemia. Anemia can cause a host of symptoms including severe fatigue, migraine-like headaches, shortness of breath, brain fog (cloudy thinking), and even strange cravings for ice, chalk, or dirt.
In 2002, after a consultation with her OB-GYN two choices were presented to Teresa: a hysterectomy that removes the entire uterus or a myomectomy that removes the tumors from the uterus, she chose the latter. Both are invasive surgical procedures and carry significant risks and lasting aftereffects.
According to 2020 statistics published by the CDC over 600,000 women in the United States had a hysterectomy. Most women do not know that the uterus is important to heart health, bone health, and sexual health as well as to their reproductive health.
Edwards recalled that when she woke up in recovery, after the myomectomy, she was told that she had some very small ones that they couldn’t get to so they left them inside of her. Teresa said, “I thought they’d dissolve like an Alka Seltzer.” They didn’t tell her that they would keep growing and that this surgery was only a temporary fix.
As the fibroids grew, her symptoms returned and within four years she was experiencing very heavy bleeding, her heart was enlarged, and she was severely fatigued. She thought at first that she was training too hard and pushing her body too far.
After going in to see her family doctor, she was referred to Dr. Lipman for a consultation. Teresa said the non-surgical UFE procedure seemed a great option for her.
“I couldn’t afford the long recovery from surgery, and what was even more appealing to me was the fact that I could keep all of my parts. I know a number of women who have had new problems surface after a hysterectomy.” She was surprised that she was not told about UFE despite its long track record of safety and success.
This was highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article from 2004 entitled “Silent Treatment: Hysterectomy Alternative Goes Unmentioned to Many Women. Gynecologists Often Don’t Cite Less-Invasive Procedure To Treat Fibroid Tumors. Bailiwick of Other Specialists”. In other words, since the OB-GYN does not perform the UFE procedure, they are not offering it as an option. Even the fact that a 2008 edict from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists stated that “based on long- and short-term outcomes, UFE is a safe and effective option for women with fibroids who wanted an alternative to a hysterectomy”, treatment patterns have not significantly changed. Many patients like Ms. Edwards are completely unaware of any other options besides surgery.
After confirming that the fibroids had returned and were the reason for all her symptoms, Dr. Lipman performed a Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Three days later Teresa Edwards said, “I was feeling great,” and caught a flight to Tulsa. She said she wanted all women to feel that way. Edwards stated “The first time I went through this, the first thing they said was a hysterectomy,” she said. “I want women to know they have options. I don’t want to be quiet about this anymore.”
Teresa and Dr. Lipman are both involved in the “White Pants Movement” that is empowering women with information regarding uterine fibroids and ensuring they know ALL treatment options available.
Dr. Lipman cited, “Women who are suffering from fibroids can avoid surgery, keep their uterus, and get the symptom relief they long for.”
Erin Robinson, known for her time on Amazing Race and YouTube Stardom also suffered from uterine fibroids. She used her “Clevver” platform to get her story out to other women. She said, “I was suffering for a really long time.” At first, she was afraid that she would have to lose her uterus to surgery but, after researching herself, she learned about the UFE procedure and it was life-changing.
Erin said, “I felt better than I ever felt before I think you live with pain for so long — you self-medicate, you stretch, you workout, you do whatever you can — you start forgetting what being normal feels like. The more I talked about this, the more I found that women needed to hear this message.”
The unfortunate part of this story is that most women who are diagnosed with fibroids are only told about 2 surgical options and are never told about UFE. She decided to film her treatment journey with an all-female crew to send the message to women that they have alternatives to a hysterectomy and also to go see their OB-GYN right away if they are not feeling well. There is no need to suffer silently. You can find Erin’s story called “It Got Real” on her YouTube Channel Clevver.
If you or someone you know suffers from uterine fibroids, please do not wait any longer. Get the help you deserve and get your quality of life back from the fibroid experts at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. Dr. John Lipman and his caring staff at the Atlanta Fibroid Center are waiting for your call at (770) 953-2600. You can also make an appointment online.