Women’s health coach Gessie Thompson was 30 when she was diagnosed with fibroids. At the time, she was trying to figure out why she and her husband were unable to conceive for six months. She later learned her mother had fibroids when she was pregnant with Thompson’s younger sister.
After her diagnosis, Thompson recalls feeling lonely while dealing with her condition. That set her on a quest to learn all about fibroids, a condition she endured for 14 years that also caused her to battle infertility for 10 years before giving birth to her daughter Nia.
Thompson’s miracle journey to childbirth included 10 surgeries (five for fibroids and five for complications from those fibroid surgeries), five in vitro fertilization cycles, and one devastating miscarriage where her heart stopped on the delivery table.
Thompson’s personal health journey inspired her to become a health coach and nutritionist, and to found Detox Living, an online wellness provider. Through the HerElimination program she co-founded, she works to help women prevent and reverse inflammatory conditions such as fibroids, infertility, endometriosis, and more.
After her story was featured in an Essence magazine profile in 2014, Thompson received worldwide feedback from other women with fibroids.
“The floodgates flew open,” she said. “It was as if sharing my story had given them permission to stop suffering in silence and expose their battle scars.”
These days, Thompson works to educate and empower women of color on how to prevent and reverse inflammatory conditions that disproportionately affect them, including fibroids, heart disease, diabetes, infertility, endometriosis, thyroid issues, and more.
Birth control and fibroids
It’s common for doctors to place women on birth control to avoid painful periods caused by fibroids.
Thompson says that approach can do more harm than good. She says hormonal birth controls, including birth control pills, patches, and injections, as well as IUDs, “flood the body” with estrogen or progestin. That fuels estrogen dominance, the root cause of inflammatory conditions, such as fibroids.
“Estrogen dominance, which is triggered by stress, diet, and pollutants, occurs when our progesterone levels are too low or our estrogen levels are too elevated,” she said.
Thompson wants women to know that an irregular menstrual cycle likely means they’re estrogen dominant.
“A ‘happy period’ should occur every 28 to 31 days and last three to five days with very little bleeding, and little to no cramping,” she said. “Women can balance their hormones naturally through lifestyle changes like stress management and an estrogen-free diet.”
Many women take hormonal birth controls for non-contraceptive reasons, such as regulating cycles or reducing heavy bleeding. But Thompson’s patient cases reveal they only mask symptoms of conditions like fibroids, infertility, and endometriosis. In addition, taking hormonal birth control has been shown to increase a woman’s risk of developing blood clots by three to four times.
“I want women to know their lives are so much more important than the convenience of unplanned sex that birth controls provide,” said Thompson, citing natural alternatives, such as using neem oil, the fertility method, and apps to track the body’s ovulation cycle.
Thompson is happy that July is Fibroids Awareness Month, noting it provides “a focused opportunity to have the conversation on broader platforms collectively.”
She’s optimistic about the future of how we treat and talk about fibroids and lifestyle-driven conditions, where people are aware of the root causes of diseases, and are educated on how to develop and sustain a holistic lifestyle of prevention and cure.
“My hope for the future is that healing becomes a revolutionary lifestyle adopted by the masses,” she said. “One where we work to become the first experts of our health.”