Kayleigh, my beautiful friend who you may remember from the first season of the sex positive podcast, recently had a hysterectomy at the age of 26.
I am so so proud of her and extremely relieved she got the help she needed - it's so wholesome seeing her roller skate like a G and being able to go out without being in debilitating pain.
Kayleigh is here to answer some common questions you may have and tell you a little about her journey with the archaic gynae healthcare system.
So, how did you get to the place of wanting a hysterectomy?
It definitely wasn't a rushed decision, I know it seems like an extreme response to many people but I can't stress enough the importance of bodily autonomy...
Was it hard to get the doctor to let you have a hysterectomy?
Yes. For years I struggled to get the doctors to take my pain seriously, let alone talk about a hysterectomy. I had countless ultrasounds and was told all I had was an ovarian cyst.
First of all, ovarian cysts are agony, but secondly, it was masking a serious and frustratingly common condition. I was referred for an MRI and finally got an Adenomyosis diagnosis but was told that whilst they could refer me to a gynaecologist to discuss a hysterectomy, I'd likely have to jump through many many hoops and then I'd still be put on a waitlist for up to 7 years.
Eventually, I decided to go private, I went in with all of my documents and I was ready to argue my case but this time I was immediately listened to. But that's what £7k gets you I guess.
What exactly happens with a hysterectomy?
There are many different types of hysterectomies. I had a laparoscopic subtotal hysterectomy with ovarian and cervix conservation. This means they cut out my uterus and fallopian tubes but left everything else.
How was the recovery?
I was off work for 12 weeks, The first month was especially hard but even fresh out of surgery I could tell that certain pain was gone. I mostly enjoyed bed rest and took some small walks.
After 4 months I was able to get back to exercising and enjoying old and new hobbies.
Do you still have periods post hysterectomy?
I don't have periods but I do have a day or so where some blood is passed. This is apparently because some endometrial cells can develop on the cervix during the cycle and then will be passed just as a period would.
How do you feel now you have fully recovered?
So many people have asked how I feel now and I cannot tell them enough how amazing I feel. I'm in the best shape of my life and finally have the energy to explore hobbies I used to love and hobbies I have always wanted to try!
I've had zero pain since recovering and have even discovered that I didn't have IBS or food intolerances as previously believed.
What tips would you give people with wombs wanting to do the same?
I would tell people to be their own advocate. Record everything, research, join support groups and fight for your health. Don't be afraid to chase a doctor's appointment, don't be afraid to call again and be on their radar and if you can then going private could be a huge help.
What would you like to see changed in the process/attitudes of getting your womb removed?
I would like is for medical professionals to believe that women know what they want. So many times it's expected that the default setting for a woman is to want to have children. And even if it is their health should not be secondary to that. I was told I had IBS, then cysts, then food intolerances, and finally I was diagnosed with both Endometriosis and Adenomyosis.
I would also like to see more support for the people on waiting lists and more education and awareness around these conditions.