I’ll start by saying my situation was a bit different to the norm, and I am by no way saying that having a vagina leads to depression. I am saying, however, that when your girl bits turn against you, it can affect absolutely everything in your life. I am also writing this to say to everyone who thinks it is okay to tell a girl “it’s only period pains” or “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for a week without dying” (seriously, if you have ever said the latter please go play in traffic), that there’s often more to it than you think, so be less of a douche and try and cut us ladies some slack.
Without giving you the 20 page chronological run down of events, I had really bad periods. If you’re a person who can play Call of Duty and watch the Saw films but “gets a bit queasy” when girls talk about periods then leave now. These were heavy, painful and constant. I was bleeding all day e’ry day for months. So, trying to look after my health, I had STI checks, blood tests, scans, you name it and nothing. I was a medical marvel, bleeding like the severed artery of a slaughtered pig but at the same time, “perfectly normal.” I was referred to a specialist.
Here began the onslaught of internal examinations. You know those images you see of people being probed by aliens after being abducted so they can inseminate humans with their hybrid offspring? That was my life. Internal ultrasounds, weird metal forceps being put in places I never knew could be reached, the “birthing a baby calf” experiences where doctors, somewhat like vets assisting the birth of a farm animal, inserted their hands into me up to what felt like their elbows. I was seeing more action than the people who star in your favourite RedTube productions, yet unsurprisingly it was far less erotic (well, depending on what you watch I guess…)
I was told that a Mirena Coil would sort out my issues, so I went for it. Unfortunately, we then found my cervix was unwilling to expand, ever. So after two failed attempts at trying to fit this coil whilst I was awake, in front of 5 medical students MAY I ADD, they put me under anaesthetic and tried again.
It was in, followed by approximately six infections, one of which saw me going to A&E and having IV antibiotics and a not-so-comfy hospital stay. This all happened over the space of six months, and not only was the pain worse than before, it now felt like there was a Borrower in my uterus with an unwound metal coat hanger scraping me from the inside.
Add in the continuing 24/7 bleeding and some golf-ball sized clots falling out of me willy-nilly, and you have my life for 6 months. They eventually operated on me three times and found I had a number of issues including endometriosis, internal scar tissue and a wall of tissue growing over my cervix (woohoo). They took the Mirena coil out (as I had been asking them to do for months) and they started me on some hormone treatments.
Obviously the pain was unbearable at times, and the infections made me sick, creating the clots that would literally stop me being able to stand up for fear of what may happen, but the worst part was the constant embarrassment alongside the fact that many people, including one of my doctors, thought I was “making a mountain out of a molehill”. Yep, that’s a direct quote from a health professional; I overheard her talking to a nurse about me. Talk about women understanding women…
At times, I would be doubling over in public; I knocked over a few displays in Boots and New Look because I was trying to grab manikins for support. I had to cling to walls to stop me falling over through the pain which once prompted a lovely young man in the library café to ask if I was going into labour and if he should call an ambulance.
I had that wonderful feeling of knowing that I had just bled so much in public that people thought I had been wounded in a knife attack. These symptoms led to me shutting myself away, leaving university on a formal Leave of Absence half way through my third year and shutting off friends, family and my incredibly supportive boyfriend.
I couldn’t talk to people because no doctors knew what was going on, and how can you explain something to your friends and family that apparently isn’t there? It took me fainting in hospital after the pain an internal ultrasound caused me for the doctors and nurses to fully understand the impact this was having on me. It was a constant cycle of having to prove myself to everyone, prove I was sick, and prove I had these issues that were stopping me from feeling normal and doing normal things. Finally, with the removal of the Mirena coil, and the scar tissue and my super fun cervix wall, I was back to square one. I was started on hormone treatments and some ‘alternative medicines.’
After all of this and a mental breakdown about a month after everything was sorted out, I was finally okay again. I got some hormone treatments, had some check-ups and here I am, about to finally finish my degree.
But I didn’t just write this because one of the editors asked me to, nor to get attention (I got enough of that all last year), or even to give scare stories of what your uterus may be planning. I wrote this because I can. After feeling ashamed and embarrassed after so many invasive procedures and all the obvious physical manifestations of my issues that would rear their ugly head in the few times I went out to socialise, I can finally say that nothing embarrasses me anymore. I was candid before, but now I have no filter and I just don’t care.
I’ve also written this to give women some advice about how to treat their bodies. If you know something’s wrong, then something is wrong. Do not let doctors fob you off for months with procedures you know don’t suit you. The Mirena coil was the worst thing for me, which was admitted by my doctors at the end of treatment, but it seemed to be a goer at the time so they just went for it against my mild but anxious protests. You can say no to treatment that feels wrong for you, and I wish I had.
Also, you’re not alone. I found so many people had varying scales of the issues I had, and they all suffered from some form of depression because of hormone levels, or social anxiety due to symptoms and self-imposed levels of social exclusion due to fear of what people may think. Get help, discuss it with someone, surround yourself with supportive friends and family, listen to your body and your own opinions and I promise you will overcome the wrath of your uterus.
Life ponderer. History & Politics student. Always amidst an existential crisis. Lives for garlic bread and napping.