09 November 2018
As women, we put up with a lot. From fluctuating weight and mood swings, to bloated tummy’s and stomach cramps, period symptoms can be hard to live with. Although most of us tend to simply try to just ‘get on with it’, we should all be aware of other possible underlying causes.
Julie, 49 from Shipdham in Norfolk fell very much into the category of ‘grinning and bearing it’, but one day she decided to do something about it and now her life is very different. Julie explains “I had been experiencing symptoms for a very long time before I sought medical help. My periods were very heavy and gave me terrible stomach cramps. My quality of life was affected for several days a months and my symptoms made my day to day life so restrictive. I’m an active person and love walking, but on the lead up to my period and for the few days during, I was completely dragged down by the pain, and just felt exhausted, uncomfortable and exercise was the last thing I wanted to do”.
“I have private medical insurance and after a particularly bad episode of pain during my menstrual cycle, I thought ‘enough is enough’ and made an appointment with my GP who referred me to Spire Norwich Hospital”.
“The appointments team at Spire are very knowledgeable and listed the consultants who had expertise in my symptoms. Mr Duncan had an appointment available in just a few days and I was booked in to see him”.
“I must admit that I was very nervous before attending the appointment but I was immediately put at ease by the welcoming reception staff. I was called through by Mr Duncan personally. He was so reassuring and really took the time to understand my symptoms to ascertain what may be the best options for me. I had an examination and a scan which diagnosed endometriosis”.
Mr Tim Duncan, Consultant Gynaecologist at Spire Norwich Hospital explains “Endometriosis is a condition which can affect women at any age from when their periods begin until they stop (the menopause). It is thought the commonest cause is when a small number of cells, known as endometrial cells, from the lining of the uterus (womb) are shed during menstruation. Instead of passing into the vagina the cells pass back up the fallopian tubes into the pelvis (lower tummy). These cells then implant into the lining of the pelvis (the peritoneum) where they carry on functioning as the lining of the womb, but in the wrong place. These cells respond to the natural hormones the ovaries release and bleed a little each month. The blood they produce causes inflammation in the pelvis which may go on to cause pain, adhesions (scar tissue) formation between the ovaries, tubes, womb and other pelvic structures”.
Mr Duncan continues “The treatment options available to women are varied and will very much depend on their age, the severity of their symptoms and whether they intend to have children. A large number of women find great relief with hormonal treatments such as the contraceptive pill and similar treatments. These can give many years of pain control and there is some evidence they reduce the progression of endometriosis. The main problem with these hormonal treatments is they are contraceptives, which is not helpful if the woman is trying to become pregnant. Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery is very effective for the removal of tissue affected by endometriosis which can improve fertility and improve symptoms better than drug treatment. In Julie’s case, she did not intend to have children, therefore given the severity of her symptoms a hysterectomy was an option we discussed”.
Julie explains “I had time to think about what treatment I wanted and opted for a hysterectomy. Before the operation I was incredibly nervous but the anaesthetists, nurses and Mr Duncan were great and made me feel comfortable and reassured me. After the operation nothing seemed too much trouble for anyone, I was very well looked after”.
Mr Duncan adds “Keyhole surgery and in particular keyhole hysterectomy represents a huge step forward in the quality of care we can offer women. One of the major advantages this type of surgery has over conventional operations is the recovery time is much, much quicker. Patients often only need to stay in hospital for 24 hours before they are feeling comfortable enough to go home – previously four to five days was not uncommon. What is even more impressive is the rapid overall recovery from the operation, which can be as little as two weeks, after which women often feel well enough to return to work. This compares very favourably with a recovery time of up to three months if a hysterectomy is performed through a cut on the tummy.
Julie concludes “I was so grateful for all the team at Spire Norwich Hospital did, I never felt rushed or pressured and the whole experience was very reassuring for me, and also my husband. I would not hesitate in recommending Mr Duncan, he was very patient and always listened to me and took the time to go through everything. My quality of life has improved drastically and I am glad I sought help when I did”.
For further information about gynaecological surgery arrange an appointment with your family doctor or call 01603 255 614 to make a private appointment with Mr Tim Duncan.
All surgery carries an element of risk and the content of this page is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.