When I awoke the morning after a friend’s 40th birthday, my first thought was, Yay! No hangover! My second was, God that hurts, as the pain of a cramp buckled across my stomach. I sat up and with dread, sensed the sheets were wet. Standing up to my horror I realized my period had leaked in the night, through my fleece PJs and onto my friend’s white sheets. I was mortified.
For years, I just accepted the horrific periods I had as a given. Everyone always told me “They get worse with age,” so I just thought — that’s it. I just have to accept it, invest in a large stock of sanitary goods, and buy a lot of black underwear.
But then one day I was talking to a friend about how awful the pain was, and she encouraged me to go to the doctor and have them take a more thorough look. My general practitioner suggested the contraceptive pill. Sadly, it didn’t work — just made me fat and more hormonal. Next suggestion? The IUD coil. Well the thought of having one of those inserted inside me just about made me run for the hills. Next up I was offered Prozac for my premenstrual tension (PMT), but decided against it as I was certain I could treat it homeopathically. I regularly had acupuncture and it helped, but was costly. It just seemed like an endless round of never knowing what to do and suffering all the while.
I got used to the pain, the embarrassment, the endless cash spent on tampons and headache tablets and tranexamic acid tablets to lessen the blood loss. But then I started having a period directly after my period, and I knew there was more to it, so back to the doctor I went.
A scan revealed I had fibroids, which were removed, and then I had another operation to take out polyps. Next, I went for an ablation — where they blast the womb and you don’t have periods any more — but the operation didn’t work. Finally, reluctantly, I had no choice but to have a hysterectomy.
After watching both my mom and my aunt go through this operation and suffer through a painful recovery, I was not looking forward to this. But what I had forgotten was just how much surgery has moved on in 20 years.
I had the operation, and all there was to show from it were three teeny-tiny cuts on my tummy — the size of a child’s nail — and a two-night stay in the hospital. Recovery took a week or two of taking it easy. I was driving 10 days later and walking into town within a week. Now, I am back at full force, and every day is like a gift.
Having a hysterectomy WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE.
I wish I’d had this hysterectomy three years ago. I wish that someone had told me how easy it was and how life-changing the results would be. Instead of aging me, it has made me feel younger! No more contraception worries, no more painful periods. Yes, I still get PMT, but I swear it is milder. And since I kept my ovaries, I’m not going through menopause just yet or have a need for hormone replacement therapy.
I feel like I have my life back. I never really accepted just how debilitating my periods were. How much they took over my life and caused me so much anxiety and dread. How much they ruined my sex life and my sheets, my clothes and my ability to do anything spontaneous.
While I am no doctor and wouldn’t wish to advise on anything medical, I do urge women not to suffer in silence. When you consider that 90% of women suffer from dysmenorrhea (a.k.a. period pain), it is a huge issue, but one that’s rarely discussed. This needs to change. It isn’t a taboo subject — it’s a natural part of life and one we shouldn’t be ashamed of.
Talk to your doctor about your struggles. Talk to your friends about their experiences. The more we all speak up, the more likely we’ll find ways to ease our pain. We shouldn’t suffer in silence. Take it from someone who is now womb-less — and all the happier for it.More On