|Fibroids are benign, muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. According to John Hopkins Medicine, they affect about 30% of women ages 30 to 45. In many cases, fibroids are not that big of a problem. Although they can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, and abdominal pressure, many women don’t even realize they have them, as the majority of fibroids are small, and asymptomatic.
Bridget Taylor’s fibroids, however, nearly killed her.
The 40-year-old British woman suffered heavy periods, fatigue, bloating, thinning hair, and general feelings of unwellness for three years. Each time she went to the doctor asking about her symptoms, her physician told her that she was probably just feeling worn out.
Her low levels of iron, which she discovered through a blood test, revealed something was definitely wrong, though. When her stomach became unusually swollen, she admitted herself to Kensington and Chelsea Hospital’s emergency room in west London.
Staff there tried to do a pap smear test, but couldn’t because there was something blocking it. So they referred her to a gynaecologist, who the next day found that Taylor had two fibroids. One was the size of a pea, and the other tumor was as big as a six-month-old fetus, or about the size of a head of lettuce.
Taylor underwent uterine fibroid surgery, which nearly took her life.
The operation was supposed to only take half an hour, but after the procedure began, doctors found 12 more fibroids. She wound up staying under the knife for a whopping five hours.
“After the operation, the next morning the surgeon came in to see me and gave me a big hug and said: ‘Miss Taylor, do you believe in God? In nine out of 10 cases you would be dead,'” Taylor told The Voice.
Apparently, Taylor had begun to bleed out, and they nearly removed her uterus, but she for some reason stopped bleeding.
“The consultant said no one has ever had that number of fibroids and managed to avoid a hysterectomy or blood transfusion,” Taylor said.
Although doctors aren’t sure what causes fibroids, they have found several factors linked to an increased risk of problematic fibroids. A woman with a family history of fibroids stands an increased risk of having them, too. Obese women have a two to three times greater risk of fibroids.
Ethnic origin, too, is a big factor. A study published in 2013 by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reported that “African-American women had substantially more fibroids” with an average of 9.9 fibroids compared to the 4.5 average of Caucasian subjects.
Taylor, who is African Caribbean, has not had any problems since her operation, and urged other women to learn from her experience, saying “Push for that blood test and ultrasound as that is the only thing that will show you’ve got fibroids.”