Raising awareness of uterine fibroids

We want to raise awareness of uterine fibroids and encourage women to speak about their menstrual health.

Despite one in three women developing them at some point in their life, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge about uterine fibroids. Many women still believe certain symptoms, such as heavy periods, are normal, and a recent survey conducted on behalf of Gedeon Richter shows that over half (52%) of women with uterine fibroids who have symptoms wait six months or longer before seeking medical advice about their symptoms of uterine fibroids, with more than one in three (35%) waiting over a year.

Talk About U is a national campaign, developed by Gedeon Richter, to raise awareness of uterine fibroids and the associated symptoms so that more women understand their bodies and take notice of changes in their monthly cycle. It is important to build further understanding about menstrual health, challenge what is considered normal, and empower women to take action and speak to a healthcare professional.

Research has shown that over half (51%) of women with uterine fibroids don’t feel comfortable speaking to their healthcare professional about their symptoms. Of those, over a third (35%) said it was because they thought their symptoms were normal while almost one in five (19%) said it was because they felt embarrassed or uncomfortable.

Be it speaking with friends, family, colleagues or their healthcare professional, we hope the campaign encourages women to speak up if they think something might be wrong, without feeling uncomfortable. We want women to have the confidence and knowledge to be able to talk freely about their menstrual health. It’s time to Talk About U.

On this page you can find a number of materials providing further details on uterine fibroids, the importance of better understanding your body and menstrual health, and information to help you prepare for an appointment with a healthcare professional.

 

Talk About U Videos

Dr Pixie McKenna is a General Practitioner with decades of experience in women’s health. She is best known for her leading role in the BAFTA-winning medical series ‘Embarrassing Bodies’.

Listen to Dr Pixie speaking to Sarah, who has suffered from uterine fibroids and learn about the symptoms of uterine fibroids, how it is diagnosed and treated, and why is it important to understand what is ‘normal’ for you.

Dr Pixie McKenna speaks to Sarah about her experience of uterine fibroids, including what led her to go and see her healthcare professional, as well as her diagnosis and advice she has for other women. Sarah was diagnosed with uterine fibroids in 2011.

Bridget’s Story

Bridget had felt unwell for two to three years with symptoms including heavy periods, clotting, a swollen stomach and tiredness. Following a blood test which showed something was wrong, an ultrasound eventually revealed that Bridget had two fibroids, one of which was the size of a six month old unborn foetus, the other pea-sized.  After surgery to remove the fibroids, everything finally made sense to Bridget and she realised they were the reason she had been feeling unwell for so long. She hopes women in her position will not ignore the symptoms and will visit their healthcare professional if they think something is not right. Listen to her story now.

About Uterine Fibroids information sheet

Download this information sheet as an easy guide on uterine fibroids. It includes information on what they are, the symptoms, the risk factors, how they are diagnosed and the treatment options.

Visiting your healthcare professional

If you think you might have symptoms of uterine fibroids or have noticed a change in your menstrual cycle, it is important that you go and speak to your healthcare professional (usually a GP or practice nurse).

In order for your healthcare professional to be able to help you, it is useful for you to prepare in advance of the appointment so you know what to expect and you are ready with the information they will ask you about. Think about the following topics before your appointment.

Questions your healthcare professional might ask you

Your healthcare professional may ask you the following questions:

  • When was your last period?
  • How long do your periods last?
  • How frequent are your periods?

Topics to bring up

Think about the following questions before your appointment. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, make sure you tell your healthcare professional.

  • Do you suffer with heavy periods?
  • Do you ever need to change your pad/tampon every hour or two?
  • Do you ever pass blood clots bigger than a 10p coin?
  • Do you ever bleed through to your clothes or bedding?
  • Do you ever need to use more than one tampon/pad at a time?
  • Have you ever needed to miss a day of work due to your period? If so, how many and when?
  • Are your periods irregular? (Read more about irregular bleeding)
  • Do you experience excessive pain in your pelvis or abdomen during your period?
  • Does your period disrupt your daily life in any way?
  • Do you experience any of the other symptoms of uterine fibroids? (Read more about symptoms)

Questions to ask your doctor if you think you might have uterine fibroids

  1. If I have uterine fibroids, what tests will be done to confirm diagnosis and what happens during the procedure?
  2. How long do I have to wait until I receive results?
  3. Do I have to go to hospital for the test or can I just go to my GP practice?
  4. If I receive a diagnosis for uterine fibroids, what treatment options are there? Are there any side effects? Will it impact my day-to-day life?

While Dr Pixie McKenna is in the Talk About U videos above, the wider campaign has been developed with support from a number of experts in women’s health. Dr Anne Connolly is also a GP, providing insights from primary care, as the first point of call for women when they think something might be wrong. Dr Anne Deans is a Consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, providing knowledge of women’s experience in secondary care, once they have been referred by their GP. Dr Deborah Lancastle is a registered health psychologist, offering an insight into the psychological impact of uterine fibroids on women:

Photo credit: Louise Young
Photo credit: Louise Young

Dr Pixie McKenna

Pixie is a General Practitioner and star of radio and television with decades of experience in women’s health. She is best known for her leading role in the BAFTA-winning medical series ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ and programmes such as ‘Food Hospital’ where she acts as an advocate for empowering and educating women to prioritise their health. Pixie backs the importance of women listening to their bodies, seeking medical care early and creating a platform for discussion around women’s health.

Dr Anne Deans

Dr Deans has been a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Surrey for over 20 years. A passionate advocate for women’s health, Anne also writes for women’s magazines and has actively contributed to the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health.

Dr Anne Connolly

Dr Connolly is a General Practitioner, with a special interest in gynaecology, at Bevan Healthcare in Bradford and Clinical Lead for Women’s and Sexual Health at NHS Bradford and Airedale. She is also Chair of the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum and works closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health.

Dr-Lancastle-cropped

Dr Deborah Lancastle

Dr Lancastle is a registered Health Psychologist and Principal Lecturer at the University of South Wales with a primary interest in women’s reproductive health. She is particularly interested in uterine fibroids and heavy menstrual bleeding and believes that it is vital that more is understood about how these health challenges affect women physically and emotionally.