NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For the first time, July is being recognized as Fibroid Awareness Month with a new bill and funding in Congress.
There are also new medical options available for the millions of women who suffer from this condition, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Friday.READ MORE: Judge Lifts Temporary Pause On Vaccine Mandate For NYC Teachers And Other City Workers, Who Now Must Be Vaccinated By Monday
It’s estimated that 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 have uterine fibroids – benign tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus and can be as small as a pea or larger than a grapefruit.
“Think of fibroids really as a chronic disease,” said Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy, professor of gynecology at University of Chicago Medicine.
Fibroids can have a profound impact on a sufferer’s quality of life. They can affect intimacy, cause bloating and acute pain.
“The most common symptom for uterine fibroids that patients come and complain about is heavy menstrual bleeding,” Al-Hendy said.
Al-Hendy adds the extreme loss of blood can also result in intense fatigue and anemia.
This past May, a new, once a day pill called Myfembree was approved by the FDA to reduce heavy bleeding due to fibroids. Al-Hendy led the study.
“We noticed about 50% reduction in bleeding already in the first month,” he said. “Then this reach around 85 to 90 percent very quickly starting the second month.”
Users can stay on the drug for two years.READ MORE: FDA Authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shots For Seniors, Others At High Risk
Doctors say it’s not a cure or suitable for women who want to get pregnant. There are surgical procedures that do offer hope for women wanting to get pregnant.
“The newest procedure that’s being done for fibroids is something called radio frequency ablation,” said Dr. Charles Ascher-Walsh, director of gynecology for Mount Sinai Health System. “Essentially, sort of putting a needle into a fibroid and delivering an electric current.”
This basically kills off the tissue and shrinks the fibroid. A similar, more invasive version is a laparoscopic procedure that requires anesthesia.
Tanika Gray Valbrun has been suffering with fibroids for nearly 30 years, and says they have impacted her fertility as well.
“Last July, was my second embryo transfer failure, and I’m 43. And I say to myself, ‘Should I just give up? Like, just give it up,'” she said.
Valbrun said her harrowing 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,” she said.
It’s an important resource offering support, education and awareness.
About a third of the women who suffer from fibroids don’t need or seek medical attention.MORE NEWS: No New Cases Of Legionnaires' Disease Reported In Harlem In 4 Weeks
For more information about the White Dress Project, CLICK HERE.