Hologic urges Black women to 'get loud' about equal care for uterine fibroids

Hologic uncovered a common thread when talking with Black women about their uterine fibroids: Nearly all had dealt with their symptoms in silence.

“We heard over and over again that they thought heavy periods were normal, that they ran in the family, that this is something everyone deals with,” Hologic Division President Essex Mitchell said in an email interview. 

So the medtech is teaming with the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) to turn up the volume with its multiyear “Unmuting Fibroids: Getting Loud for Equal Care” campaign.

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Hologic, which makes women's health products including gynecological surgery devices, launched the effort in September with a roundtable discussion to boost awareness about the noncancerous uterine tumors, which disproportionately affect Black women.

Nearly 80% of Black women will experience fibroids in their lifetime and are twice as likely to be hospitalized for fibroid-related issues compared to white women.

And while Black women are often diagnosed at a younger age, Mitchell said they often delay treatment for years, partly because they’re more likely to be offered invasive options like a hysterectomy. 

“When we held our roundtable event and women from all walks of life were sharing their experiences, they all said that enough was enough,” Mitchell said. “To enact change, there needs to be a voice around the issue.”

MSNBC journalist Tiffany Cross hosted the roundtable and shared her own experience with uterine fibroids. She joined other advocates, medical professionals and celebrities including singer Tamar Braxton and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Cynthia Bailey.

One clear consensus? The need for more education on menstrual health. In a video on the campaign website, Braxton remembers having an “insane amount of bleeding” to the point of becoming anemic.

“The heavy cramps, being taken off of school because I can’t get out of bed … I thought that this was what a normal period was like until I went to the doctor as a young woman and found out that I had fertility issues,” she said. 

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Bailey, who had a minimally invasive procedure known as a uterine fibroid embolization while on “Real Housewives,” said her OB-GYN initially recommended a hysterectomy, which she didn’t want. “I wanted to know what my other options were,” said Bailey, who convinced her producers to include the procedure on the show. 

The roundtable participants identified three action items: designating periods as a vital health sign, educating HCPs about uterine fibroids in Black women and pressing for more funding. 

Hologic is rolling out “a steady cadence of content” to promote the effort through the next year, including interviews and sponsored content on media outlets like "Essence" and "The Real," Mitchell said. 

Hologic’s portfolio of women’s health products includes fibroid removal devices MyoSure and Acessa ProVu, which it picked up in its buyout of Acessa Health in 2020.