Vicki is 39 years and has struggled with heavy periods and related pain since she was 10 years old. She was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis at 22 but continued to suffer with severe pain, heavy bleeding and UTIs, despite treatments and multiple surgical interventions. As a last attempt to be pain free, Vicki chose to have a hysterectomy when she was 35. Even though her ovaries were not removed, she realised she was entering menopause after the operation when she began having night sweats, insomnia, anxiety and very dry hair and skin. The ‘cure’ Vicki was hoping for didn’t materialise – another battle just began instead, as it took 18 months to access the treatment she now needed for her menopause.
Vicki shares some of the struggles younger women have when trying to get help for endometriosis and/or a surgical or early menopause, and reflects on the decision she made and the lack of information provided to her at the time. Dr Louise Newson advises women in this situation to speak with their doctor about the likelihood of surgery triggering menopause and to find out about the symptoms and benefits of HRT in advance, so you are prepared.
Vicki’s tips if you have, or think you have, endometriosis:
- Do your own research and be your own advocate, push for answers
- Keep pushing your GP, make them listen to you, show them your pain diary and take someone with you who sees you when you have pain
- Learn as much as you can about endometriosis; treatments are not just surgical, there’s exercise, diet, physiotherapy, and others
- Understand that hysterectomy isn’t a cure for endometriosis but if it is the right decision for you, learn about the menopause and benefits of HRT in advance.
Vicki helped contribute to the booklet, ‘Endometriosis and You’
For more about endometriosis, visit Endometriosis UK