Welcome back to Woman Crush Wednesday! This week we’re celebrating Gabrielle Union, who’s opening up about adenomyosis, a condition that threatens the fertility of many women around the world.
Gabrielle’s journey began when she and husband Dwayne Wade (of the NBA’s Miami Heat) decided to start a family. Unable to conceive on their own, Gabrielle says she turned to many unsuccessful rounds of IVF to try and become pregnant. Instead of getting support from her doctors, however, the star says she was basically blamed for her own infertility: “Everyone had just sort of chalked it up to ‘You’re a career woman, you’ve prioritized your career, you waited too long and now you’re just too old to have a kid,'” she said. “And that’s on you for wanting a career.”
Fortunately, Gabrielle did not stop looking for answers and, soon enough, she and her doctors discovered the truth: she had adenomyosis, a type of endometriosis that can cause infertility.
According to Gabrielle, who now wants to raise infertility awareness among women of all ages, she’s had the condition since she was in her 20s. Adenomyosis occurs when uterine lining tissue is found in the muscle layers surrounding the uterus. It is sometimes hard to diagnose because the misplaced tissue acts like other uterine tissue, shedding itself at the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Many women have no symptoms, though some experience cramping, pelvic pain and unusual spotting.
Any woman who has had uterine surgery, including fibroid removals and/or a cesarean section, is at risk for developing adenomyosis; women between the ages of 40 and 50 make up 80 percent of diagnosed cases, so age also appears to be a risk factor.
Complications like Gabrielle Union’s are just one reason our doctors encourage early, non-invasive treatment options for uterine fibroids. After all, as Ms. Union is now telling fans as she relates her story of struggle, “Fertility is not an older women issue, it is an issue period.”