When Tanika Gray Valbrun was 13 years old, she got her first period at a family function. It was apparent because she was wearing white shorts and because her flow was heavy. That heaviness persisted each time she got her period, along with intense pain.

It wasn't until her mid-twenties that Tanika would find out these debilitating periods — and ongoing fertility struggles — were caused by fibroids, benign uterine tumors. But just because they aren't cancerous doesn't mean they can't cause problems.

When symptoms do arise in people with fibroids, Rachell Bervell, physician and founder of the Black ObGyn Project, says they can be quite serious.

Curious about other health issues? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Listen to every episode of Short Wave sponsor-free and support our work at NPR by signing up for Short Wave+ at plus.npr.org/shortwave.

Today's episode was produced by Berly McCoy and edited by Rebecca Ramirez. Berly and Rebecca checked the facts. Maggie Luthar was the audio engineer.

Copyright 2024 NPR

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.