This article originally appeared on people.com.
Three years ago, reality star Toya Wright began experiencing severe bleeding and cramping during her period.
“My body wasn’t like that before, so I thought something was wrong,” Wright, 33, tells PEOPLE.
When she went to see her doctor, Wright was diagnosed with fibroids — muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus.
“I was nervous because at the time I didn’t know anything about fibroids,” recalls Wright of receiving her diagnosis.
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 — and are most likely to occur in women in their 40s and early 50s. While fibroids are usually not cancerous, the symptoms can be very painful.
“My uterus is the size of the five-months 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.”