Friends Talking About Fibroids Isn’t Taboo
Talking about heavy periods and severe cramps may feel awkward, but it’s important to have the conversation with friends you trust. Too many women believe their periods are normal when they aren’t, so they don’t seek medical help to determine the cause and find relief. In many cases, the cause of severe pain and heavy bleeding is uterine fibroids. These are growths in the uterus that aren’t cancerous, but can lead to life-interrupting periods, painful sex, fertility problems, uncomfortable belly bloat, and anemia from too much blood loss. Uterine fibroids are more common than many women know. Up to 65% of women have uterine fibroids before the age of 50, although they’re not always symptomatic. When they do cause symptoms, though, it’s crucial to find treatment, and the first step can be turning to your community for support and recommendations.
Talking to Friends About Uterine Fibroids: Discussion Starters
Many women tend to put everyone else’s health above their own. They may even feel selfish talking about their own health concerns or so self-conscious about opening up about “women’s issues” or “lady problems” that they put it off. The irony is that in not addressing the effects of uterine fibroids, you’re allowing them to continue.
Heavy, painful periods can feel draining, distracting, embarrassing, or scary. If you’re having these feelings, it can be helpful to share with a friend or family member who can validate your experiences and help you feel heard. If you feel awkward about the conversation, try to frame it as if you were talking about a different medical problem like asthma or diabetes. Look at it this way—it’s not a personal failing, it’s a medical situation, and your friend may be dealing with it, too. These discussion starters can help:
- Are you ever worried you’re losing too much blood during your period?
- Have you ever missed work because of your period?
- Have you had to cancel plans because of your period?
- Is your period bloating so bad you look like you’re pregnant?
- Is sex painful for you sometimes?
- Do these pants make my fibroids look big? (It’s OK to joke around to lighten the mood.)
It can help to ease into the conversation over coffee, drinks, or a walk. If you can’t think of a friend to talk with, look into online communities and support groups.
Overcoming Uterine Fibroid Stigma
Menstruation in general comes with significant stigma. It’s often referred to with euphemisms like “Aunt Flo”, “monthly bill” or “the curse.” Ask yourself why talking about a biological process all women go through is such a big deal. Many health organizations around the world are calling for the end to the stigma through education, resources, and dialogue.You don’t have to change the world, but you can change your world and the world of the women around you. Start by talking about period concerns with a friend, online or off, and schedule your next appointment with your doctor if your periods are causing real problems.