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Former reality star Toya Wright is opening up about living with painful fibroids in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE magazine.

Toya Wright Official Book Release Party

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Wright credits changing her diet and regular exercise with helping her cope with the painful medical problem.  She says her journey began three years ago when she started to experience severe cramping and heavy bleeding during her period, which led her to visit her doctor, who diagnosed her with fibroids.

Upon receiving her diagnosis, she recalls, “I was nervous because at the time I didn’t know anything about fibroids.”

“My uterus is the size of the five-months pregnant woman,” the 33-year-old added.

Some of the interview highlights are below:

Wright, not only experienced painful cramps and excessive bleeding, but also gained weight. “My uterus is the size of the five-month pregnant woman,” says Wright. To deal with the pain and weight gain, Wright made changes to her diet and exercise routine. She began drinking more water and eliminated caffeine, red meat and fatty foods from her diet.

“I had to switch it up because I used to eat all types of stuff and I would just get bigger,” she says. “I had to scale back and eat healthier things like fish and salads.” She also began exercising four times a week.

“I found exercising has been more helpful in relieving the symptoms,” says Wright. “I do a lot of cardio, like walking and cycling. At that time of the month, the fibroids flare up, and when I exercise it helps me not feel so much pain.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fibroids are relatively common — 20 to 80 percent of women develop them by the time they reach age 50. It’s also important to point out that Black women, especially those between the ages of 29-39, disproportionately suffer from fibroids.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

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