Logo for the White Dress Project.

Woman founds group for others suffering from uterine fibroids

It’s estimated 26 million women have uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow in and on the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. Tanika Gray Valbrun has been dealing with fibroids since she was a teenager.

“There are so many people who are having these debilitating symptoms,” she says.

Recently, the FDA approved the daily pill Myfembree to reduce heavy bleeding due to fibroids, which can lead to anemia. University of Chicago gynecologist Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy led the study. “We noticed about 50% reduction in bleeding already in the first month, 85 to 90% very quickly starting the second month,” he says.

Patients can stay on the drug for two years. Doctors say it’s not a cure or suitable for women who want to get pregnant. For those women, there are surgical procedures that offer hope. Dr. Charles Ascher-Walsh is with the Mount Sinai health system in New York.

“The newest procedure that’s being done for fibroids is something called radio frequency ablation, essentially sort of putting a needle into a fibroid and delivering an electric current,” he says. Basically, killing off the tissue and shrinking the fibroid. A similar, more invasive version is a laparoscopic procedure that requires anesthesia.

Valbrun says her fibroids have also affected her fertility. Her medical journey inspired her to create the White Dress Project.

“Our mission is to ensure that people understand that they do not have to suffer in silence with uterine fibroids, and that they should be their own best health advocate,” she explains. She hopes raising awareness will help women get the support they need.

For more information, visit the White Dress Project’s website.

Author: Michael George / CBS
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