For any woman, thinking that there is a problem in the reproductive area can be scary. But what is scarier is the knowledge that something is wrong and not finding out what. This is what happened to me.
Progressively over a few years my periods changed and I dealt with worsening, extreme pain and an uncontrollable flow. It seemed that each month was worse than the one before. I did not have annual gynecological exams, because I had recently relocated and procrastinated finding a doctor.
It was not until I woke one morning with such excruciating pain that I could barely stand that I took action. I was taken to the emergency room where I was given pain medication and an appointment was made with a gynecologist. After a sonogram, the doctor informed me that I had a uterine mass. To identify it I needed a laparoscopy and a hysteroscopy — both exploratory surgeries. The fear that I felt for the weeks leading up to surgery date is indescribable. I could only think the worst.
The diagnosis was a large uterine fibroid along with endometriosis. I was relieved that I did not have cancer or another life-threatening illness. The doctor explained that the fibroid was not dangerous, was treatable, and also was not removed during surgery because it had grown into the uterine wall. I was given two options: a hysterectomy or hormone therapy. At 39 years old, I was not ready for a hysterectomy. So I chose the hormone therapy, which would treat both the fibroid and endometriosis. I began taking Norethindrone — a progestin commonly used for birth control.
It has been 5 ½ years since the diagnosis and I have been taking Norethindrone ever since. The fibroid shrunk initially and has since remained the same size. Most importantly, I no longer have any pain, and although I experience some period symptoms each month, they are minimal with no menstrual flow at all. Hormone therapy was definitely the right choice for me.
The first piece of advice I can give from my experience is to see your gynecologist immediately if there is a problem. The second piece of advice is to not wait until something is wrong. Get regular exams. Had I seen my doctor sooner, it may have prevented the fibroid from worsening and would have eliminated the years of increasing pain and uncontainable flow that I had to endure before seeking help.