Women with uterine fibroids have options, and this project is spreading the word

An international non-profit campaign is raising awareness and advocating for more research for uterine fibroids.

Fibroids are muscular, non-cancerous tumours that develop in the walls of the uterus and affect millions of women worldwide.

The White Dress Project founder and global fibroid educator Tanika Gray Valbrun says more women need to share their stories and experiences with uterine fibroids.

We are staring to get women to share their stories. This is an epidemic were women really suffer in silence.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, activist and founder of The White Dress Project

Once they start to share their stories then others can understand how important this is.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, activist and founder of The White Dress Project

Read: Woman aims to bring a global Fibroids support campaign to SA

Once we start to share, then we'll get others interested; government officials and the private sector so that we can raise funding for increased research and advocacy.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, activist and founder of The White Dress Project

Dr Gary Sudwarts is a Cape Town-based Radiologist with a special interest in interventional radiology.

Fibroids are benign growths within the uterus. They are balls of muscular tissue that grow with hormones.

Dr Gary Sudwarts, radiologist

Dr Sudwarts says fibroids start causing problems in the late 20s and early 30s and, if untreated, can lead to infertility.

Symptoms include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back and leg pains
  • Pain during sex
  • Feelings of exhaustion
  • Anemia/ iron deficiency
  • Strange cravings for ice or clay because of low hemoglobin
  • Pressure on the bladder and bowel

Also read: Fibroid embolisation to save lives of millions of South Africa women

Internationally, 20% of women have fibroids although interventional radiologist Dr Sudwarts believes that this number is higher in South Africa.

Dr Sudwarts explains that the fibroid embolisation is an available less invasive treatment alternative to having a hysterectomy (whereby the uterus/womb is removed).

Dr Sudwarts teaches fibroid embolisation at Groote Schuur Hospital, offers a day of pro bono treatment every week and hopes to spread the message that women don't have to lose their uterus if they have fibroids.

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