The period advice I wish I’d heard sooner

For many, menstruation can be more than just a monthly annoyance. Here, Hayley Neale shares her “nightmare” experience with heavy periods and the life-changing advice she wish she'd received earlier.

By BTYB Wear White Again
tampons

My heavy bleeding started about April 2013. Before then, my periods were normal.

I’d been induced with both my kids so I’ve never felt a natural water break, but that’s how my first bleed was. It was horrific. It covered both my legs and I had a sponge-like clot in my underwear.

When it happened, I still had about 30 minutes left of my day shift so I couldn’t just up and leave straight away; I was worried, but also embarrassed that I'd leave a path of blood.

At the end of my shift, I quickly went to my locker and had to use about three pads before I could even attempt to leave work. By the time I got home, I had bleeding on my car seat.

I was really worried and rang my GP straight away. He decided to try me on some medication to curb the bleeding called Cyklokapron. I was on it for about two years, but it made no difference. On the second day of my period, I would always get heavy bleeding and feel that awful feeling of the lining of my uterus coming away. I could feel it; it was horrible.

I dreaded working in case it happened. The “heavy” pads were useless – I ended up using incontinence pads to help hold in fluids. It was embarrassing and just plain horrible.

I was eventually referred to Women's Health at my local hospital, where I had a pap smear and was booked in for a dilatation and curettage (D&C), a minor op to scrape away the womb lining, as they noticed I had a polyp and thought that might be causing the heavy bleeding.

Unfortunately it wasn’t. My next period was just as heavy so I went back to Women’s Health and was given two choices – the Mirena IUD or endometrial ablation – as my surgeon wasn’t keen to do a hysterectomy even though I was ready to do anything to stop the heavy periods. I just wanted this sorted.

It was a nerve-wracking decision. I didn’t know much about endometrial ablation – I hadn’t read much or heard a lot from women who had got it done – but I didn't feel that hormonal therapy was right for me (I wanted a more permanent solution) so I chose endometrial ablation and said, if this doesn't work, then I want a hysterectomy.

I was booked into my local hospital a few weeks later and under general anaesthetic I had endometrial ablation. It's a minimally-invasive, quick and simple procedure which involves removing the lining of the uterus.

The surgery went well and I went home later that day. I took a week off work as I didn’t know how I’d handle the after-effects, but the odd headache and sore boobs (which only lasted a day) settled pretty quickly. I had blotting for a couple of weeks afterwards; and I was still nervous for a sudden flood, but after two months of no bleeding – not even a spot – I started to feel confident that this nightmare had ended.

It's now been over 12 months since I had the operation and I no longer have heavy periods. I’ve had the odd spot, but nothing that’s worrisome. I just wish I’d had it sooner. I didn't use to go anywhere in case the bleeding happened. My lowest point was using incontinence pads – nothing will control excess bleeding – but this is the best feeling in the world. No more pads. No issues with any bleeding or dryness. I'd never heard of endometrial ablation but it has changed my life.

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