This Month | I Want to Get Serious About Female Health

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female health

Hi guys, this month’s This Month is going to be very different. Now, I’m going to be honest and say the idea of publishing this is making me feel incredibly vulnerable. I started this series as a softer side of talking about female health. Light hearted – skin and cravings, something that we could all relate to on some level. I thought one day I might talk about it in a more serious way, but one day was a long way away. And most likely, a few shots before publishing.  

Then, a couple of things happened. In last month’s This Month, I got a comment about how my periods seemed really easy. Obviously, by only talking about the aforementioned softer side of things, I can totally see why it can appear that way. But, that isn’t the case at all and I don’t want to be that person. You know, the who makes everything look so easy and shies away from the real issue. That comment played on my mind for days, weeks, actually. Then, I read an article the other day about proposed cuts in the NHS budget. It was a list of 17 potential surgeries that could be cut to save the NHS some money. Two of the 17 surgeries were related to relieving symptoms from extremely bad periods. I don’t want to turn my blog into some huge political debate, but this struck a nerve with me. 

Cuts To Female Healthcare

Now, I did some further Googling about what the word ‘cut’ actually meant under these circumstances. Obviously, this is just a proposal and nothing has actually happened yet, but the two surgeries in question are dilation and curettage for heavy menstrual bleeding and a hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding. The word ‘cut’ in these proposals means two different things. For the dilation and curettage this means only available at the request of the patient and when they meet certain criteria. As for the hysterectomy, it means only when in extreme need and certain conditions are met. Because SO many women get offered a hysterectomy when they don’t really need one in the first place… 

Getting treatment for bad periods in this country (I don’t know about others), is hard. Really hard. The NHS aren’t exactly happy going down the surgical route to treat them and most women who need treatment have to practically beg for it and jump through a million hoops to get there anyway. And even after the begging and the doctors visits, women often end up walking away with nothing. Trust me, I’m one of them.  

This is the part I told you I was going to need the shots for. I’m going to try to summarise my period back story for you in an attempt to highlight how difficult it is to get treatment. I thought at some point I would slip in a detail of my period struggles in a This Month series when I got to the cravings section and I had to tell you I hadn’t been craving anything because I’d been too sick to eat, or something along those lines. I never expected to be plain listing intimate details about my ovaries.  

My period symptoms  

Every month  

  • Heavy bleeding and clotting 
  • Excruciating pain from the top of my stomach down to my thighs 
  • Lethargic
  • Dizziness  
  • Blurred vision 

Some months  

  • Violent sickness (every 2nd/3rd period on average) 
  •  Dizziness so bad I can’t climb stairs without the fear of falling down them (again, every 2/3) 
  • Actually passing out (extremely rare, but does happen on occasion)  

I’m almost certain I’ll have missed something there, but on top of that I get fairly heavy ovulation bleeding and pain too. And the standard bloating but I didn’t think that was worthy of its own bullet point.  

My period medical history  

Again, this is going to be a summary because this goes back years.  

October 2005 – Hell begins, I get my first period.  Idiotic 11-year-old Sophie thought this was an exciting life event.  

Sometime 2007 – The first trip to the doctors. Get brushed off with the standard ‘you’re young, they’ll settle down’. In the first few years of my period, they would be anywhere from 8-23 days long. Settling down was something I was very much looking forward to. 

Early 2009 – Back to the doctors. Finally agree that maybe it won’t settle down. At this point, my GP had been my family GP for over 30 years. The women in my family have notoriously bad experiences on the pill. He suggests I try it, but he only knows of three that my mother hasn’t had adverse side effects from so he’s only willing to prescribe me those. I tried it, I felt incredibly weak and nauseous every single day and although it was making them shorter, my other symptoms weren’t any better. 

2009-2012 – Try mefenamic acid, does nothing. Try every form of pain relief possible, does nothing. Still very much patiently waiting for them to ‘settle down’. 

2012-2015 – My university years. I was 300 miles from home and spent several days a month locked in my room avoiding the world.  

Summer 2016 – Autumn 2017 – Return to the GP. A different surgery this time, my beloved family GP had retired. I list all of my symptoms. They suggest I have anaemia. I tell him that if I did have anaemia I would consider that I symptom of the bigger issue, not the cause. Full blood tests are done. What do you know? My iron, B12 and every other level in my body is perfectly healthy. I finally get a referral to a consultant. I try tranexamic acid, but as I already suffer from clots, this makes the pain worse. 

Over the course of that summer and the following year, I saw three separate gynaecologists. I had hormone tests, STI tests, far too many internal exams. I had an ultrasound which discovers no cysts, but she can’t find one of my ovaries (?!) so my regular on the tum ultrasound very quickly becomes a camera being inserted into my vagina to find the ‘missing’ ovary. The missing ovary also turns out to be fine, but I’m guessing you already assumed that was going to happen. I did get prescribed some anti-sickness pills during this time, which are an absolute lifesaver. 

My mum has endometriosis, so there’s always been a part of me that thought I could have it too. I tell the three gynaecologists this. The only way to properly tell if it’s there is to have a laparoscopy, which none of them are willing to give me because ‘people my age don’t get endometriosis’. What that really means is that doctors don’t like to admit women who haven’t had children can possibly have endometriosis. My mum had to have a hysterectomy for hers by the way, in case you’ve forgotten why I started telling this story to begin with.  

I tell them all of the treatments my mum had had that gave her some relief, including thermal ablation and curettage.  They all say they won’t try any of it, even though they admit it could help, because I don’t have children and these treatments can slightly damage fertility. Here’s the thing, I don’t want children, I never have. I don’t even like children, other than the odd exception. One doctor tells me that the youngest age he’ll treat a childless woman is 35, another says 40, the third insists that doesn’t matter because I’m definitely going to change my mind before then anyway.  

The same guy also tells me that he would do a laparoscopy, but I’m too thin to operate on, so he won’t. And ‘I have a greater chance of death because my organs are too close together’. Excuse me?! Just to clarify, I’m a UK4 with a BMI within the healthy range. Yes, I’m small, but I’m by no means a walking skeleton. And it’s a keyhole procedure anyway.

Once again, I walk away with nothing. I thought the second I got my referral, I would finally get some relief and I got nothing. In case you’re wondering what the point of all of this is, I got rejected and refused treatment so many times. And I was suffering. So, I don’t want to imagine the amount of suffering the women who do actually get treatment are going through. And I definitely don’t think we hand out surgical treatment like after dinner mints.  

More importantly, the treatment women receive isn’t great. And the women who are being treated definitely do not need those surgeries being taken away. The article calls these surgeries unnecessary. While lives aren’t dependant on them, quality of life certainly is. The list was also written by a man. Just saying.  

I was reluctant to post this as it’s so personal and I wasn’t sure how many people could relate. Then I took a minute and realised that if no one ever talks about it, you’re never going to know just how many people could potentially have similar issues. If you’re one of those people, I really hope this helps.

Until next time,  

Sophie 

Regular This Month posts will resume next month, and I’ve been making a list of products to try and feature in the series too for those of you who left me requests last month.

52 thoughts on “This Month | I Want to Get Serious About Female Health

  1. I’m really happy you posted this and I think we should all talk about this more! It happens to a lot of us and we’re still too shy to talk about periods and these issues!
    I think it’s outrageous how it’s often up to men to make these decisions!
    I hope you can get treatment and feel better soon, I have no idea what it’s like and I’m starting to realize I’m one of a lucky few!
    Good job writing this!! xx

    Angela | DreamsAndLashes.com

  2. It’s absolutely disgusting that you were repeatedly refused a treatment that would relieve your pain because ‘you might change your mind’ why do people think it’s their right? It’s your body, as long as they tell you the side affects it is ultimately your choice! I have never experienced anything like what you have been through medical wise but it is so eye opening to hear about the struggles that still exist and shouldn’t. Thank you for writing this post x

  3. I also have a friend who suffer from period problems and she has had hard time getting the help she needed. I don’t understand why these sort of problems are not taken seriously enough by doctors!!

  4. Thank you so much for talking about female health, especially about the period and sharing your experience. I really don’t understand why is there still a lot of stigma when it comes to periods. I realized that a lot of your women now so little about their own bodies and about something that will happen to them for such a long time. I read somewhere that in total woman have period for about 10 year of their life. That’s a lot of time. x

    Antonia || Sweet Passions

  5. Thank you for opening up about this. The stigma around periods in general keeps us from talking about more serious symptoms, which isolates people with periods who suffer from them. I’m so glad there’s a discussion being opened about this, and the point you made about quality of life is so important. I hope you find some relief soon! Hang in there.

  6. You’re so brave to post something like this on your blog but I completely agree that people should talk about it, most women have periods every month it’s not like they’re a ‘taboo’ subject so I don’t know why people don’t like to talk about them much! I’m sorry for what you’re having to go through, I’ve always been quite lucky in that I don’t get bad periods (touch wood) and my contraception has made them even lighter and shorter so I can’t complain but I would hate to have to go through what you do. Also, I understand where the doctors are coming from about the fact you may change your mind about children but surely that’s your decision to make not theirs? If your quality of life is going to improve I would hope that that was more important than the fact it can slightly affect fertility, if you were adamant you wanted children it would be different as it could ruin your chances but if you don’t want them I don’t see what the problem is? I know surgeries can be costly but it sounds like they’re well needed for a lot of people!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. This must have been so hard to write but just think about all the girls you may be helping by letting them know they’re not alone.

  8. So brave of you to get this out there. It sounds like you’ve been through hell and back and honestly does sound like endo ❤️ Stay strong

  9. Posts like this are my absolute favourite to read. I don’t think there’s enough serious conversation about women’s health and certainly not enough research.
    I honestly believe in my heart I suffer with endo, every health professional I have seen has basically told me it’s all in my head and I just have bad periods…..

    Thanks for being so open and honest, I look forward to reading more x

  10. These kind of issues should be talked about more and I’m so happy that you opened your mouth and poured your thoughts on your blog! I struggle with awful periods as well, though it’s not that bad that I can’t live with it. My friend on the other hand, is basically in bed in child’s position for 5 days of the month.
    Sorry to hear that your NHS is going through cuts like these, if they will happen (which I hope that they won’t). These are the moments what make me respect more of the healthcare we have here in Finland.

  11. Hi Sophie! Well done for posting about such a brave topic. We deffo need to talk about this more! I’ve always suffered terribly with periods and recently found out I have polycystic ovaries. Mine were so inconsistent but now I find that Feminax express help me with pain! xo

  12. I completely agree that more people should talk about women’s health. A friend of mine had periods so bad she ended up in the hospital a few times. In the U.S. I’m not sure how easy/hard it is to get treatment for it as personally, my periods haven’t given me pain (thankfully) and I usually feel fine when I’m on it. However, I also know that a lot of people have it pretty rough on their periods.

    I hope you find relief soon and that at least one doctor will do a laparoscopy.

    Sahara
    http://saharas-dreams.blogspot.com

  13. I’m so sorry that you felt you needed to explain this in more detail after a previous comment! I’m also sorry that you’ve had to go through all this, it sounds horrendous. I have PCOS so I can relate to the heavy bleeding/cramps/irregular bleeding so bad and I think GPs like to kind of ignore women’s health. I got diagnosed last summer and haven’t had any other information/check ups about it since. It worries me as I know mine were quite bad and I just think like do they not care? I hope that you get the referral and can finally get some answers to what is wrong! The female body is not kind sometimes!
    Liz xx

  14. I’m really happy that you did decide to post this. Although it’s personal, it’s so eye opening and I hope other Women out there in similar positions to anything you’ve mentioned in this post are able to breathe that they’re not alone – although the situation still sucks. Your periods sound awful. I don’t have periods any more because I’m on the mini pill; my periods weren’t as bad as yours but they could get quite heavy and I did have terrible cramps sometimes.

  15. I’m glad you posted this. I have the exact same symptoms – they’re horrible! Grates me the wrong way too when budgets could impact periods and women actually in pain – people just think we’ll get over it – ridiculous!

    I hope you can get treatment and on the road to recovery!

    Fab post x

    Sophie | http://www.trafotoz.com

  16. Wow. I didn’t know doctors would treat women so bad when it came to serious issues. I am glad you spoke up and wrote a post about the topic and raise awareness. Usually periods are a hush hush topic even when they don’t cause problems. This should change. So I am proud of you.

  17. Thank you for talking about your personal experience with periods in such an open, honest and helpful way Sophie. It seems so unfair that the doctors refuse to offer you any help due to your age and body size. If you are in so much pain then surely they should listen and offer treatment regardless. Well done for raising awareness on this important issue and fingers crossed you get access to the right treatment soon! Thank you for sharing <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  18. This was such a thought-provoking post, and I think it’s so brave of you for sharing your story and experience! There isn’t enough out there regarding periods and the female health about women, leaving a lot of people ignorant to the mental and physical effects it can have. In my own experience, I’ve had some doctors brush off any issues I’ve had with a mere ‘it’s the age you are’, and it’s never been taken too seriously. I hope you finally receive some treatment! I look forward to reading more on this, and I hope it helps other gals out there who also struggle with female health.

    Evie x | https://eviejayne.co.uk

  19. There’s so much shame around female health/people with uteruses and it just makes what we have to go through worse. Ive been on the floor in public crying over how bad my cramps were and leaked through two heavy pads, and had to be put on the pill when I was 14 over pcos symptoms including periods every two weeks. Thanks for talking about this, we need more conversation

  20. This is definitely something that needs to be spoken about more. I’m extremely lucky in that I’ve never had a bad experience with the pill, my periods are well controlled and the only real symptom I get is stomach cramps for a couple of days. I really hope you eventually get the treatment you need and it helps improve your quality of life

  21. Well done for posting this and sharing your experiences with us. Even in today’s society I feel it is very much a taboo, unspoken subject. Which is such a shame as it’s a huge part of a women’s life. I’m quite lucky with mine as they don’t cause me too much bother, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for you.I hope you get get treatment and some relief soon!

    Jo | mindfuladventures.co.uk

  22. I understand why you were reluctant to post this but well done you! I have so much respect for you being so brave and sharing something so personal because its such an important topic. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with all of this, and I’m definitely not an NHS basher because I think that the concept of it as a whole is incredible, but its so hard not to be angry with them (or maybe it should be the government or whoever’s in charge of their finances) and certain individual Drs who tell people that things will ‘settle down’- that got me angry because my partner has been struggling with awful stomach pains for nearly a year and they’ve been less than helpful and have just suggested ‘cutting certain foods out and experimenting with that’ like you’d need a Dr’s certificate to work that one out. ANYWAY thank you for sharing and I hope that things get better for you!
    Sophie – https://sophiehearts.net x

    1. Absolutely! We’re very lucky to have the NHS at all but there’s certain areas where they’re seriously lacking. I’m sure it is down to government funding more so than actual doctors but there’s plenty of room for improvement. It’s so infuriating when they tell you something so simple like that! It’s as if they just assume you haven’t tried to help yourself in the obvious ways first. Thank you for reading! x

  23. Oh Hun you’ve had similar experiences to me, and I know it’s so hard when for a week (or more) every month your life’s consumed by this stuff. I struggle a lot with sore boobs, fatigue & dizziness from the week before to agonising cramps and heavy periods during, plus weird symptoms like sore gums, indigestion type pain, back pain and churning stomach. A. Joy.
    Mefenamic acid helps with making them more regular and less heavy (I bled for 4 weeks before taking them first off) but apart from rest, hot water bottles and warm baths not much helps when I’m having a bad month. Recently things have improved yet I’m doing nothing different except the weather is better and I’ve looked in to whether vitamin D might be making a difference, I’m going to see if I can have my levels checked then again in winter to see if supplementation might be if benefit. I hope you get some support and find something that helps x

  24. Thank you for wriying about this and shedding light on the topic. I have heard of vad symptoms from my friends but i cant imagine yours. Great job on this post, it wad well written and never apologize for speaking up about a topic you feel is lacking attention (: I cant wait to read more from you.

    Nikki O.

  25. Wow it’s really brace of you to post this. It shouldn’t be scary to talk about these things but it definitely is in the current social world. Your experiences sound quite traumatic and I’m not really surprised by the reluctance of drs to really help out, that seems to be a common theme when it comes to women’s health unfortunately 🙁 very informative post and I’m glad you shared this!
    Alys
    https://alysjournals.com/

  26. This was such a great post, I think periods seem so taboo it can be difficult to get help if your struggling with them, for years I had really bad chronic pain and I felt I couldnt tell anyone about it, which I know sounds really stupid now. A few times I have actually fainted and just said it was because I hadn’t eaten anything during the day. I hope you will get some relief soon, it’s not a nice thing to go through!

    thefashionfemme.blogspot.co.UK Xx

  27. Oh god all I can say is I feel you ‍♀️ I’ve been lucky enough to be listened to and tested for endometriosis but at the same time daily i’ve had nausea and weight loss took me 2 years for a doctor to listen to me so far everything has come back negative but on monday I had another diagnostic lap turns out my endo has moved my bowel (but stilll my specialist still says it doesnt cause weight loss) ‍♀️ There needs to be more awareness on female health and more females need to be listened to
    Abi xx
    https://simple-joys.blog

  28. amazing and well done to you for being brave and posting this! This might sound weird but it is nice to read about other people’s period problems, makes me feel less bad about mine. Such as being sick, I thought it was so weird that I would be sick the days coming off my period. The struggle that we have to go through a lot of the time is so fucking stupid!! And doctors end up just making you feel worse about it a lot of the time. A massive well done for writing this, made me feel more confident about talking about personal issues online xxx

  29. Sophie, this is such a brave post to write and share! Periods are something we are still so reluctant to talk about and posts like this will help give so many women the confidence to be more open about their bodies. It’s truly awful that some women, yourself included, have such a rough time every month. I’m lucky that my periods aren’t that bad at the moment, but I did go through a stint a few years ago when hormonal contraceptives really messed around with my periods and it was a horrible time. These proposed cuts are dreadful and I really do hope that they’re reconsidered. Thanks for sharing your story xx

  30. I don’t think you know me, but I’m so proud of you for coming out and talking about your health, that must have taken massive bravery. It’s so important that people (especially) women talk about their health openely, because although it is commonly seen as a taboo subject, it is so important to be heard because it’s the only way things are gonna change. Thankyou for sharing this, and I really hope you get the treatment you need in the near future.

    Katie xx
    nerdsnumbersnatterings.blogspot.com

  31. I’ve literally only been talking today about how periods need to be discussed a hell of a lot more in schools funnily enough. A friend was telling me how she suffered for years with sickness and passing out from the pain on her monthly and she didn’t think much of it because she thought it was normal due to lack of education. I can’t believe you’ve had to go through all of this with barely any useful outcome. Also, why do people think that kids are the be all and end all of everything? Would be a completely different story if it was a man saying the same thing. This post properly kept me hooked to the end and fair play to you for posting it, would love to read more like this!
    Alice Xx
    http://www.blacktulipbeauty.co.uk

  32. Great job posting on a topic that doesn’t get much air time. It’s so brave to allow yourself to be vulnerable by doing something like this. I’m proud of you for all of us women! Keep writing because I’m looking forward to reading more!
    Joan Senio
    kindness-compassion-and-coaching.com
    @joansenio1

  33. I love that you’re taking a big step forward with focusing on female health. It’s ridiculous what people in power decide in order to save money. Ugh, women should be able to access the proper healthcare they need. While I understand that everyone has their own beliefs, doctors should respect wishes of their patients. I mean, if you don’t want kids, then it is your choice. I feel like a lot of this is just excuses, like how a doctor refused to induce an abortion to a woman because it is against his religious beliefs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts ♥

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

  34. One thing I have taken away from this post is the importance of speaking out on subjects like. One, for the simple fact that people know they are not alone and this is comforting to read, and two, that its such a brave thing to do and speak about.

    Thank you for writing this post!

    Alys / alysgeorge.blogspot.co.uk

  35. I’m happy to be finally reading a postnlike this. I am in the midst of issues with my cycle and potentially at the age of 26 attempting some hormonal treatments!

  36. Thank you so much for talking so openly about your experiences and problems, it must have been hard and taken a lot of courage. I’m horrified that you were repeatedly denied treatment. I’m hoping you can receive help soon, or help others to be more open or see that they’re not alone.

  37. This is a really great post! I think when we mention the word period it still has a stigma about it even in this day and age! I’m very glad that you posted it because I’m sure a lot of us can relate. I hope one day we can all talk about periods and it not be an issue! Xx

  38. Incredibly brave that you’re so open and decided to publish this online. I think it’s a very important conversation to have and I think it’s ridiculous that doctors and the NHS are so reluctant to provide proper help even if it’s this bad. Most of your post just makes me angry tbh. Like ‘The only way to properly tell if it’s there is to have a laparoscopy, which none of them are willing to give me because ‘people my age don’t get endometriosis’. What that really means is that doctors don’t like to admit women who haven’t had children can possibly have endometriosis.’ I know this is true. I don’t suffer from bad periods but I have been treated in the same way for other conditions and it’s just so ridiculous!!
    I think if your quality of life is so important. What is the point of life if you’re suffering most of the time? I don’t get that this isn’t a priority. Why do they only care if you are about to die? Honestly think it’s amazing you decided to publish this as I do think it can help other people and start a conversation!

  39. Woahhh! You are super awesome and brave for this! I know this must have been hard but I’m super happy and proud of you for sharing a post like this…I think as women we need to speak out more on matters like this and to not be afraid to talk about so that it can help someone else who’s feeling alone but isn’t.
    The thing is a period is such a standard and natural thing that we can barely control so I still don’t understand why society at large and especially women have such troubles talking about these issues with ease. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing such hardships 🙁 I honestly have to go get mine look at, recently the pain has been getting worse to the point I get cold sweats and curl up in a ball 🙁 I’m hoping there’s nothing serious, I’m hoping I may jdt need the pill :/ Again thank you for sharing your story on such a prevalent matter!<3 🙂

    xx Lena | http://lenadeexo.com

  40. There’s nothing wrong with talking about periods in a light-hearted way! I don’t think anyone should be made to feel as if they have an easy life for poking a bit of fun at themselves every once in a while. Well done to you for picking up on a reader’s reaction and allowing that to feed your creativity! I had no idea about these cuts so you’re doing an extremely good job at raising awareness for those! Having never had to have help for my periods I wasn’t aware of the surgeries available and how hard it is to get the help you need. That’s why this post is so important! Thank you so much for sharing these intimate details with us. I can’t begin to imagine how awful it is to go through this scale of pain and sickness for something that is natural and uncontrollable. I find it appalling that doctors have had so many excuses for not giving you surgery. Firstly, yes it may decrease your fertility but what about saving the person who is alive at the moment instead of a “what if” down the road! It shouldn’t matter about your age or size! Your story is so important and will help so many women out there who feel rejected and let down by the healthcare system. Keep sharing these vulnerable sides. It’s what bloggers need to do!

    Lots of love,
    Molly xo
    http://gracetoglowandgo.com

  41. This is super eye-opening for me – thank you so much for sharing. I’m 28 but haven’t had periods since I was 21 due to the contraceptive implant, but even when I did they weren’t this severe. It makes my blood (ha) boil knowing that women are suffering and are being brushed off and refused treatment that could really change their lives. I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this, and I am so sorry that people think treatment for it is “unnecessary”. Also, it properly annoys me that women who don’t want kids aren’t taken seriously!
    Thank you so much for speaking out about this – you are very brave to share your experience and it has taught me a lot.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  42. Wow… thank you for posting this… I’m SO pissed off FOR you. I DO want kids, personally, but I think a woman should have the right to choose, especially if she’s trying to improve her quality of life. And I HATE the, “You’ll change your mind” excuse… like, who are you, my frickin’ mother? I know they’re just doing their jobs… physicians/doctors aren’t supposed to do things that they don’t think are in your best welfare. But I feel like that excuse is SO tired and not relevant to the current state of the world. There are so many lovely children out there without parents that if you ever WERE to change your mind, you could adopt. We’re not gonna have a shortage of children just because some women choose not to conceive. It’s not longer a necessity.

  43. This was such an amazing post. I think more people need to be this honest about what women go through. I hope you are taken seriously soon and get treatment soon x

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