It was about three years ago that Taiylar Ball from Chicago started feeling off.
“The first symptom was weight gain in the abdomen area,” Ball said.
Each month she also suffered through debilitating periods.
“My periods were really painful and I also started having some urinary frequency where I was going to the bathroom a lot,” Ball said.
The first doctor she saw recommended taking ibuprofen and changing her diet. When that still didn’t help nearly two years later, she went to a nurse midwife who suggested an ultrasound, which revealed uterine fibroids.
“Initially there were about four that they could see. They were huge,” Ball said, describing the benign, soft tissue tumors. Two of them were the size of grapefruits.
“The data suggests that 70-80% of women in the United States will have fibroids by the age of 50,” Dr. Sandra Laveaux with UChicago Medicine’s Center for the Advanced Treatment and Research of Uterine Fibroids said.
Black women are more likely to have fibroids, which is why Ball has been open about her diagnosis, tweeting about it and posting videos on social media, even as she headed into surgery at University of Chicago in May.
Laveaux performed a myomectomy to remove the fibroids, leaving Ball’s uterus intact.
“I’m seeing a difference each month. It’s been about two months and I would say that it’s not as heavy, it’s not as painful and I just think it’s going to get better,” Ball said.
The vibrant 24-year-old is happy to have her life back and encourages others to speak up if something feels off.
“It does effect Black women the most, so it’s so important to advocate for yourself and just pay attention to your body,” Ball said.
“Don't be afraid to talk about gosh, you know, 'My bleeding is really heavy. Is this normal?' Tell your physician, even your primary care physician, and they can then refer you to see a gynecologist,” Dr. Laveaux said.