New coalition will challenge outdated thinking of hysterectomy as a common first-line treatment of uterine fibroids.
Washington, DC — Today, Free From Fibroids and the Fibroid Coalition officially launched their efforts to raise awareness of all available treatment options for uterine fibroids. The organizations were founded by Dr. John C. Lipman, MD, FSIR, one of the leading fibroid experts in the country, along with Jan Dees, Founder & CEO of American Vascular Associates (AVA) and their Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Garcia. They have assembled a group of individuals that are passionate about providing patients and physicians with nonsurgical treatment options for fibroids.
One of the coalition members includes 4-time Olympic Gold medalist and former Chef de Mission for the US Olympic delegation during the London Olympics, Teresa Edwards. She suffered with fibroids and underwent a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). She received tremendous relief of her symptoms, avoided the significant risks and long recovery of hysterectomy, and was able to keep her uterus. Just as she was the torch bearer for our Olympians during the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games (London), Teresa is one of the “torch bearers” for another elite team made up of physicians, politicians, media personalities, and even a few supermodels.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous benign tumors which impact nearly two-thirds of women by age 50.
Fibroids are the most common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding which often leads to chronic iron deficiency anemia. They also often cause abdominal bloating, pelvic/buttock/lower back pain, and frequent urination. Uterine fibroids are diagnosed roughly three times more frequently in Black women and women of color than in white women of the same age. African-American women suffer with fibroids earlier in life. The fibroids also tend to be larger and more numerous which means that they are also more likely to get hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy is the 2nd most common surgery performed in the US. The most common reason for hysterectomy are benign uterine fibroids. It has been documented in numerous studies that most women that suffer with fibroids only hear about the surgical options: myomectomy (surgically removing some of the fibroids) or hysterectomy (removing most or all of the uterus).
Free From Fibroids and the Fibroid Coalition are determined to inform women of the nonsurgical options like UFE, which despite a 25-year track record of safety and efficacy, along with endorsement by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) still languishes in relative obscurity. Free From Fibroids and the Fibroid Coalition are out to change that.
Free From Fibroids is dedicated to the following:
- To support and empower women suffering with uterine fibroids.
- To encourage these women to be their own health advocates.
- To insure they are receiving ALL of the available treatment options; not just the surgical ones.
- To promote educational awareness and dialogues to both the provider and lay communities on the nonsurgical treatment alternatives to surgery.
- To encourage and support medical research in the nonsurgical alternatives for treating fibroids.
- To promote access to these nonsurgical alternatives.
- To support passage of HR 2007, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research & Education Act of 2021 and similar legislation that promotes fibroid awareness, education, and research.
- To support and join forces with other groups that align with our mission to promote these ideals.
“I am excited to form this coalition of medical professionals and ambassadors who want to empower women suffering from fibroids to take their life back,” said Dr. Lipman. “Our mission is to make sure that women impacted by fibroids are fully aware of the safe and proven methods of treating fibroids without surgery. Our coalition will challenge the outdated orthodoxy of the medical establishment that has systematically promoted life-altering hysterectomies over other proven effective, non-surgical treatment options.”
Dr. Ken Taylor, a nationally recognized OB/GYN and former Medical Director for the Center of Black Women Wellness (CBWW) stated, “Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery in the United States and that’s driven by benign fibroids. It doesn’t have to be this way because there are safer alternatives that allow women to recover faster and avoid unnecessary invasive surgery. We need the medical community to trust women and not let gatekeepers stand in the way. Numerous studies have shown that most women suffering with uterine fibroids are not told about UFE by their doctor or other healthcare provider.”
“There were many times in my life when I knew I needed to get my fibroid situation under control,” said Cynthia Bailey, Real Housewife of Atlanta (Bravo), and CEO of the Bailey Agency School of Fashion. “I became anemic; I was always fatigued; I think I had every symptom of fibroids out there at one point or another. It got to the point where I couldn’t really work. The non-surgical Uterine Fibroid Embolization changed my life. I feel like the light came back on inside me. I’m now proud to wave the fibroid flag, and I am here to encourage everyone dealing with fibroids to do something about it. Women everywhere deserve to get their happy back and know all of the options that exist.”
“Living with fibroids is hard enough for anyone, but doing it as an athlete feels impossible on some days,” said Teresa Edwards. “It was exhausting and used to impact nearly all aspects of my life and my family’s life. It wasn’t fair for any of us,“ continued Ms. Edwards. “It’s why I’m here to support this movement, because women with fibroids need to know there are options out there. There is a system of support, and there’s a fight to understand why this happens to our bodies and that you can live a normal life.”
For more information on Free From Fibroids, The Fibroid Coalition, or to support HR 2007, please visit our website at FreeFromFibroids.org.