Former The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey is using her celebrity platform this Women’s History Month to remind those suffering from uterine fibroids that hysterectomies aren’t their only option for treatment.
Fans of RHOA may recall that Bailey documented the physically and mentally draining toll fibroids took on her many seasons ago on the hit Bravo show.
Now, the former supermodel is sharing more details about her experience with fibroids and the treatment she recieved — even though she’s no longer a RHOA cast member.
“It’s very hard to be in a good space mentally when you’re bleeding all the time and when you don’t have any energy, and you’re anemic and you don’t have the sex drive you used to have,” the 55-year-old mother of one recently told PEOPLE.
“Mentally, I found that I was just in a dark place without really knowing I was in a dark place,” Bailey said of when she suffered from fibroids. “When I look at photos of myself during that time, it was like the light was gone because I was bleeding to death in a lot of ways.”
“My periods were always super heavy,” she shared before detailing that she wore sanitary pads underneath tampons that needed to be changed every one or two hours despite still causing accidental leaks. “I basically never had white sheets on my bed. I was always bleeding out.”
“Work wise, it was very difficult to even work the first two or three days of my cycle, because my bleeding was just so heavy. I was anemic, so I had no energy, very low sex drive,” Bailey explained, adding that her fibroids also made sex painful.
“It not only affected me. It was affecting my family, my husband and my sex life,” she told the outlet. “I was moody. I was exhausted. I was anemic. I was bleeding all the time. I was a disaster.”
After suffering from the condition for 14 years, Bailey knew that she had to do something to stop the impact fibroids were taking on her life, but she wasn’t open to getting a hysterectomy.
“But that was… something that I really didn’t want to have,” Bailey said of the procedure, where one’s womb is removed completely.“I wanted to be open to having more children if I wanted to. Even if I didn’t want to, I just wanted the option.”
Speaking on the minimally invasive treatment she received called Uterine Fibroid Embolization, which cured her of the condition, Bailey said, “the experience was great.”
While she doesn’t remember much about the procedure besides being given “light anesthesia,” the star shared that after two days of dealing with cramping and getting rest, she was able to get back to work.
“I use my celebrity to keep the information out there for women to understand that they do have options and they do not have to suffer in silence,” Bailey said. “And they do not have to have their uterus removed to deal with their fibroid situation. That should be a last resort if it even needs to happen at all.”
The star has partnered with USA Fibroid Centers this month to encourage women to “stop living in pain,” get tested for fibroids and share their stories.
USA Fibroid Centers is a national network of outpatient medical centers that offers Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a non-surgical treatment for uterine fibroids, in 30 clinics throughout the United States. As the organization noted, fibroids “affect over 26 million women and often appear during childbearing years with painful symptoms including heavy periods, pelvic pain, increased urinary frequency, and anemia.”
In case you didn’t know, March is also Endometriosis Awareness Month.