Just a few months ago Augusta, Georgia News 12 anchor Monique Williams was missing a lot of work because of her battle with fibroid pain. At first, the anchor wanted to keep the reason for her leave private, but soon realized she owed an explanation to her viewers.
In going public with her personal health struggle, Williams shared some scary information: like herself, eight out of every 10 black women are impacted by uterine fibroid tumors. In Ms. William’s case, her fibroids progressed to the point where doctors had to perform major surgery, ultimately opting to perform a complete hysterectomy due to the solid, sheer mass of the tumors.
The TV anchor’s struggle left her entire news team wondering: why do African American women have such a high risk of developing fibroids?
Black Women and Fibroids
Although it’s unclear exactly why, black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than women of any other race. Although no direct causatio
n has been found, family history plays a major role in the increased odds. Like Monique Williams, her mother also ended up getting a hysterectomy in order to put an end to her fibroid pain. In addition to a genetic predisposition, potential exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxing products and an earlier onset of menstruation may all increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids. While there is no way to prevent fibroids from first developing, high-risk women can and should take certain precautions.
Dealing with the Risk of Fibroids
First and foremost, women with a high likelihood of developing fibroids should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of these tumors (major red flags include heavy menstrual bleeding, abdominal pain and bloating and anemia); black women should ask their OBGYNs for regular screenings. Visits to the doctor should be annual.
Since both a diet high in carbohydrates and increased body weight both elevate fibroid risks, it’s also important for women to get regular exercise and choose lean proteins, fruits and veggies over bread, pasta and other grains.
For Ms. Williams, who has now returned to her news desk, sharing her story was all about helping other women know their options. While a hysterectomy was her choice, she made sure to share information on fertility-preserving treatment options like myomectomy (surgical removal of individual tumors) or tumor-shrinking, non surgical procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.) As a news anchor, Monique lives to inform others, and because she turned her personal struggle into a teaching moment for all other women, we salute her as our Woman Crush of the week!