A long time coming – Anne’s story

I got married aged 22 and, like many couples, we hoped to start a family when we were settled. So after a few years on the pill we decided to try for a baby. After a couple of years I went to my GP because there was no hint of a pregnancy. Then followed several years of visits to the gynae clinic in my local hospital, undergoing tests and infertility treatment, including surgery to unblock my Fallopian tubes and to remove ovarian cysts.

My surgeon said that the way he had done it meant the tubes would not close up again. A dye test later proved this to be wrong. So eventually the only option was IVF which was still relatively new in those days, and the chance of becoming pregnant was less than 30%. So we decided not to pursue it any further.

Over time my periods became very heavy and painful. More tests revealed I had a few fibroids, one of which was quite large. More tablets, then balloon therapy – nothing seemed to have much of an impact. I was offered a hysterectomy on several occasions but I always felt it would be too drastic, and I wasn’t happy at the thought of an early menopause.

I think it was after I stopped taking Norethisterone to treat my painful periods that I started the menopause. By this time I was around 50 years old. Sex had become painful and I had 3 instances of post menopausal bleeding. Each time I was referred to the hospital and had a hysteroscopy, but everything was always normal, except that the fibroids hadn’t got any smaller.

This year in June I bought some Replens to help with the painful sex, and after the second application there was blood on the applicator. So after another visit to my GP I was referred to the hospital once more, which resulted in another pelvic scan and hysteroscopy, and then an MRI scan. All this was done within a month, and when I saw the consultant the results did not give any cause for concern. I had thought that I’d had an adverse reaction to the Replens, but it seems it was just a coincidence. The consultant explained that the large fibroid might be breaking down, and they couldn’t rule out that it might become cancerous. I had the choice of either having it monitored for who knows how long in the future, or having a hysterectomy.

As I am now 63 I didn’t really want to have to keep going for check-ups. When I finally agreed to the hysterectomy I almost felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I am lucky that I am in good health and reasonably fit, which I felt was another point in my favour. So on 11th October I had my op – a total hysterectomy including ovaries and Fallopian tubes. The surgeon told me afterwards that the ovaries were flattened, and I’d also had endometriosis at some point.

It is 6 weeks today since I came out of hospital. I have been very lucky that, being retired, my husband has been able to look after everything at home and I have not had to do anything other than concentrate on getting back to normal. There have been no hiccups in my recovery. I now feel much stronger in myself and have been out walking nearly every day, weather permitting (although I still haven’t managed the 3 in 6 challenge!). I can’t really say I wish I’d had the op years ago, but I’m very glad now that I have.

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