If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a few stories about the menstrual issues I’ve been having for the past 3+ years. It has been a long emotionally and physically draining road dealing with almost non-stop bleeding. I have met with several doctors (including a holistic doctor), have completed panels upon panels of blood work, saliva hormone tests, ultrasounds, and internal exams. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on testing (and tampons) and countless nights falling asleep with a heating pad on my abdomen. I’ve shed thousands of tears of frustration when none of the “try this for three months and see if it will work” attempts have been successful.
I’ve finally decided to put a stop to it once and for all. And, with the help of an understanding doctor, I have a hysterectomy scheduled for September 1st.
Since I’m younger than average for this procedure (I’ll be 31 in October), they will be keeping my ovaries – thankfully not sending me straight into menopause. If all goes as planned, the procedure will be done laparoscopically (LAVH), which means a shorter recovery time compared to an abdominal hysterectomy. My doctor also plans on removing the fallopian tubes while I am in the operating room, as this significantly decreases any risk of developing ovarian cancer.
I’ve received a couple questions from people who are curious as to how I got to this point or how to navigate the medical world when it comes to being an advocate for your health. And I’m here to tell you, it isn’t easy. I walked out of so many doctor’s appointments feeling frustrated and unheard in the last several years and have sat up many nights trying to self-diagnose my condition. It finally took me standing up for myself and being unwilling to simply mask the problem with birth control pills and IUDs, all of which I have tried without success, to get to this point.
A few comments / questions I’ve gotten that I wanted to take the time to address.
You’re so young! And this is such a large procedure. Are you sure? It’s hard for people to understand just how much these problems have taken a toll on me mentally and physically. I literally worry about bleeding constantly. Every time I use the bathroom, every time I go for a swim in the lake with my kids or realize I don’t have a tampon on-hand if I need it. I’m always counting down the days until I’ll start bleeding again (I’m lucky if I can go a full 7 days without). The constant worry is enough to drive someone crazy!
Are you really done having children? Luke and I very briefly toyed with the idea of adding a third child to our family a few years back, and we just as quickly came to the conclusion that our family unit is best left as it is. We have two beautiful, healthy children who love each other. Their current ages and age gap allows us to embark on family adventures on a whim, gives us the capacity to “divide and conquer,” and guarantees we can always give them the love and attention they deserve! (This is not a knock on families with more than 2 children – this is just how we personally feel we can best parent.) I was also VERY sick during both pregnancies, and at this point in my life, I don’t think I could handle the hyperemisis gravidarum again.
Do you have endometriosis? The short answer: No. Despite many years of trying to get to the bottom of this, I have yet to find an answer as to what is causing my irregular bleeding. My ultrasounds, blood work, hormone panels, and internal checks all come back “within normal range” with no fibroids, thickened lining, or remarkable findings to report. Basically, I have a 21-day cycle with 14+ day long periods, which leaves roughly a week in-between bleeding, if I’m lucky. I believe it’s possible that I have adenomyosis, and I am hopeful that my OBGYN will be able to provide answers after my hysterectomy once he is able to fully inspect/dissect my uterus.
What other methods have you tried? Three+ years ago, I went to my (now former) OBGYN with my concerns: irregular bleeding; stabbing, knife-like ovulation pain; heavy periods. She put me on a hormonal birth control pill and advised me to try it for three months. It didn’t work. I repeated this process with 4-5 different types of birth control pills. None of them touched the problem and many gave me other undesirable symptoms on top of the already existing issues: migraines with aura, moodiness, weight gain, etc. I eventually switched OBGYNs and, after running panels of blood work and ordering ultrasounds (finding nothing worth noting), she recommended that I try the Mirena IUD. I hesitantly agreed and had it inserted in January. The insertion process was awful and my experience with the IUD for 3+ months was no better. Not only did it not solve my abnormal bleeding, it actually made it worse – paired with horrible cramps, constant bloating and discomfort in my abdomen, and acne/back acne that I haven’t dealt with since I was a teenager. I got the Mirena removed in June, at which point my doctor referred me to the OBGYN who will be performing my hysterectomy next month. (Fun fact: He is also the doctor that delivered Marleigh and was supposed to deliver Huck, had he not come out too fast!)
Why don’t you try endometrial ablation? I am fully aware that a D&C / ablation surgery is a much easier procedure to recover from. But it’s also not guaranteed to fix what’s happening with my bleeding issues, nor is it a permanent solution. For women who are not yet in pre-menopause, the failure rate of an ablation is upwards of 70%. Given all the years I’ve wasted trying bandaids for my problems, I’m simply not willing to go through one painful hospital procedure just to most likely have it followed up by a hysterectomy in a few years anyway.
Will you go into early menopause? My doctor is keeping my ovaries in tact, which will prevent sudden menopause and should keep my hormone levels functioning normally.
What does the procedure entail? From everything I have read and researched, a LAVH procedure is a safer surgery with much less of a recovery time. That said, I’m fully anticipating at least a few days of being bed-ridden after the surgery, with several weeks of taking it easy to follow. I’ll update on this after I’m living it as soon as I can, for anyone who might be considering a hysterectomy for themselves.
As much as I wish my body was functioning properly right now, I’m beyond thankful that I was able to give birth to two beautiful children before my uterus decided to be difficult. It’s not lost on me that the same doctor who delivered my firstborn will be removing the very organ that nourished my babies inside my body.
I’m at peace with my decision, but that doesn’t mean I’m not extremely anxious for the procedure. I have to get a COVID test five days prior to the surgery (I should have never watched the videos of people getting that swab stuck up their noses!) and I won’t be able to have my husband or any visitors in the room pre-op or post-op. But I’m strong and capable and ready to tackle this challenge, especially if it means a lifetime without the constant worry of bleeding!
If you want to stay updated on the procedure and recovery process, please give me a follow on Instagram @kinandkindling and feel free to DM me there or comment below with any questions!