Being open and honest about real things that happen to real women is the fastest way to smash taboos and get us all talking about tricky topics. Which is why here, Lyndsey, 43, talks about her decision to have surgery to cure painful periods...
Why is my period pain so painful?
“I started my periods at the age of 12 and from then on, suffered heavy periods and excruciating pain throughout my whole life.
“I had no life outside of my monthly periods. I was regularly anaemic, would pass out, and frequently had time off school. As I got older the pain got even worse – to the point where there was just a week or even a few days out of a month when I wasn’t in pain. At times, I even had to be admitted to hospital for morphine injections because the pain was that bad. It's hard to function when you're suffering that much.
My periods stop me socialising
“As a result of my crippling periods, I stopped exercising and I had no social life. I started to retreat into myself. It was affecting my performance at work too because I was taking time off on a regular basis. I was too ill to go in and do my job properly.
How do I stop painful periods?
“I'd already had unsuccessful non-surgical treatment and once I’d had my two children, and knew my baby making was complete, I wanted to take action to get my life back on track. I knew I needed surgery – it was just finding out exactly what was needed.
"It wasn’t until I met with Ms Shirin Irani, Consultant Gynaecologist at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, that I finally made the decision to have surgery and tackle my heavy periods once and for all. Ms Irani showed me that I didn’t have to live that way. When I was in unbearable pain, I remember her saying to me, 'heavy periods and what goes with them are very common but many women just put up with what they think is 'normal''. She made me realise there is no good reason to put up with the pain – what I thought was normal certainly wasn't and there were things that could be done to make my life better.
"So shortly after my first consultation, Ms Irani performed a minimally-invasive ablation procedure where my womb lining – the part of the body that caused my heavy bleeding – was burnt away by a 90 second ‘blast’ of radio frequency energy. This meant my womb lining no longer thickened during my menstrual cycle, making my periods much, much lighter. This operation also meant my womb didn’t have to be removed entirely, which is what I wanted.
"The ablation is 80-90% successful in women over 40 years of age and Ms Irani advised that success rates are higher by fitting a Mirena intra uterine system (sometimes knows as a hormonal contraceptive coil) at the same time. The hormone released from this device helps make periods lighter and much less painful.
Now I'm living pain-free
“Now that I’ve had surgery, I can get back to enjoying a normal life. I even started running regularly to get in shape – something I hadn’t been able to do for years.
"I’d urge other women suffering from heavy periods to take action. For the first time in my life I’m able to socialise and plan my life without having to worry about the arrival of my period. I’m pain-free. I used to think it was a real cliché when I read statements like ‘this operation has changed my life for the better’ but in my case it really is true.”
Do you have an experience you’d like to share? Get in touch to tell us your story.