Former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey is sharing her personal story about her experience with uterine fibroids to help educate other women on the condition that she struggled with for 14 years.
Bailey recently opened up to People about how fibroids affected her physical and mental health and took a toll on her marriage to her ex-husband, Peter Thomas. “It’s very hard to be in a good space mentally when you’re bleeding all the time and when you don’t have any energy, and you’re anemic, and you don’t have the sex drive you used to have,” Bailey told People in the interview.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop in and around the uterus. Some women never know they have fibroids. But the size and location of the tumors can impact the symptoms which can include heavy menstrual bleeding, low back pain and constipation. The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but research has shown that Black women are more likely to develop them than white women. By age 50, 70 percent of white women will develop fibroids compared to 84 percent of Black women.
The reality star says her symptoms included heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, and a low sex drive, which impacted every aspect of her life and made her feel like she was “bleeding to death in a lot of ways.”
She added, “work wise, it was very difficult to even work the first two or three days of my cycle because my bleeding was just so heavy,” she says. Bailey says that as her fibroids grew, her stomach enlarged to the point that RHOA viewers thought she was pregnant.
While exploring her treatment options, Bailey says she refused to consider a hysterectomy (a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus) because she wanted the option of having more children. Instead, she opted to have a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a non-invasive outpatient treatment that leaves the uterus intact. Instead, a UFE blocks blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. Bailey shared the 40-minute procedure on camera with RHOA fans. She says after a two-day recovery period, she was able to return to work. A couple of months later, her menstrual cycle returned to normal, and she was able to live her life without being controlled by fibroids.
This Women’s History Month, Bailey has partnered with USA Fibroids Centers to share her story and help educate other women about fibroids. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 200,000 women are subjected to hysterectomies each year to treat fibroids. That figure represents nearly one-third of the total number of hysterectomies performed each year in the United States. Bailey wants women to know that a hysterectomy isn’t their only option and that they should consult with their doctor about the best treatment option that accounts for their personal and reproductive plans.
“I use my celebrity to keep the information out there for women to understand that they do have options and do not have to suffer in silence,” she says. “And they do not have to have their uterus removed to deal with their fibroid situation. That should be a last resort if it even needs to happen at all.”