I had always had heavy periods – that was normal for me

Photo of a mother and daughter
Boris Kaulin / iStock / Thinkstock

Isabelle, 71 years old

"If I hadn't had to go to hospital back then it probably would have taken a good while longer until I noticed the fibroid. At some stage it would probably have got so big that I would have felt it."

When I was about 50 I had to go to hospital for emergency treatment. All of a sudden I had very high blood pressure and a very poor blood count. The cause was unknown. I was passed from department to department in the hospital to try and find out what was wrong with me.

The "fibroid" diagnosis took me by surprise

I was also examined in the gynecology department. They didn't actually find anything that was causing my poor blood count and high blood pressure. But they did find out that my womb was considerably enlarged and recommended that I have a hysterectomy. A fibroid was causing the enlargement. That took me by surprise because I hadn't noticed anything and didn't have any symptoms. It later turned out that my womb was five times heavier than normal because of the fibroid. But I don't know if I had only one or several fibroids. Nobody told me and I didn't ask.

It was clear to me that I wanted a hysterectomy, and wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. So I stayed in hospital and the operation was carried out. The doctors operated through my vagina. That was really important to me. I didn't want a cut across my belly.

I was glad that it was a fibroid and not cancer

I was very relieved that it really was a fibroid and not cancer. I wasn't actually that worried about it being cancer because I had been told that it was unlikely. But when you're in hospital you have lots of time to think about things. So I was pretty relieved when the doctors came and gave me the results of the tissue analysis. I had been a bit scared.

It took me a good while to recover from the operation

It was all over and done with for me then, except the after-effects of the operation. I was really weak for about six weeks after the operation, and the recovery process was much tougher than I thought it would be. I had to rest a lot, couldn't really do much and wasn't able to carry anything heavy. From the outside, your body seems fit and healthy, but the wound inside is huge. I didn't really feel all that bad though. Shortly after the operation the doctors panicked a little because I was having trouble urinating. They were worried that they might have damaged my bladder. They gave me an injection and then the problem was solved. I think there are a lot more risks involved than we “laymen” might think.

Not having periods anymore was a huge relief to me

I was quite happy to have a hysterectomy. After I had recovered from the operation I really started enjoying life. I no longer had those five or six days every month where I couldn't do anything, or was very restricted in what I could do, because of my period. I had always had heavy periods – that was normal for me. And I no longer had to worry about getting pregnant. Life is good for me without my womb. It was a huge weight off my shoulders. I can make plans now without having to calculate in advance whether my period might get in the way.

I didn't notice the fibroid at all. Since I was twelve years old my periods had always been very heavy and lasted a long time. But in all those years I had never had any other unusual symptoms. If I hadn't had to go to hospital back then it probably would have taken a good while longer until I noticed the fibroid. At some stage it would probably have got so big that I would have felt it. It all went pretty much perfectly for me.

Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on June 15, 2021
Next planned update: 2021

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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