The Ma Rainey actress shared that she struggled with uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths of the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding, infertility and, in some cases, miscarriages. Black women are three times more likely than white women to get uterine fibroids.
But there were many medical procedures leading up to Davis's hysterectomy.
Following the success of the 1996 play Seven Guitars and the additional opportunities it brought her, Davis was able to afford surgery to remove her fibroids. This operation offered her a small window of opportunity to conceive naturally — something that, in her early 30's, she wanted desperately.
She recalled that seeing children out and about made her want her own, but at that point in her life she had only had two unsuccessful relationships.
Following the advice of one of her Raisin in the Sun co-stars, Davis says she prayed to meet a man with whom she could start a family.
"God, you have not heard from me in a long time. I know you're surprised. My name is Viola Davis," began her request, which included that the man be Black, from the country and with children of their own. A few weeks later, she met actor Julius Tennon, and the two have now been married for almost 20 years.
Unfortunately, Davis's reproductive issues did not end there. She next had to have a myomectomy — an operation to remove 33 additional fibroids while leaving the uterus intact.
Davis has a family history of reproductive health issues; two of her older sisters nearly bled to death after labor and subsequently had to have hysterectomies, the second most frequently performed surgical procedure for U.S. women of reproductive age.
Later, Davis also had a hysterectomy during an operation on an abscessed fallopian tube, telling the doctor, "if I wake up and my uterus is still here, I'm going to kick your ass," she recalled.
Davis and Tennon adopted a daughter, Genesis, in 2011.
She says the decision was inspired by actress Lorraine Toussaint, who decided to adopt because she wanted to be remembered as more than a "series regular."
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