“I started my periods two weeks before my tenth birthday. With each period, I experienced severe pain. Some days it was so bad, I was unable to get out of bed or go to school. I visited doctors a number of times, but with each visit I was told I was just experiencing heavy periods. By twelve, I was given Mefenamic Acid and Buscopan, aged sixteen I was on Diclofenac Sodium, and at twenty, Codeine was added.
After I married Peter, we started trying for a baby but after three years, nothing happened. We were referred to our local hospital, where consultant Alex Swanton was the first person to take my symptoms seriously. When I told him about my painful periods, he conducted a scan, which although wasn’t the most comfortable, revealed the cause behind my 20 years of pain.
Like 1.5 million women in the UK, I have endometriosis. It means tissue like the lining of my womb, had grown in other places. Because it had been left untreated for so long, I needed surgery. This would give me a chance to conceive naturally, but there were no guarantees.
Although the surgery eased my pain, it didn’t help me to conceive naturally and so we were referred to Oxford Fertility for IVF treatment. At Oxford Fertility, the team explained everything, supporting us throughout the process. We were delighted when after our first cycle of IVF, I became pregnant and went on to give birth to the very energetic and fun-loving Joseph.
The team froze two embryos, so that we could try again. After a move to Rugby to be closer to my family and support, that time came. As the team at Oxford had been so helpful, warm and had given us Joseph, we decided to return there for treatment. The team defrosted one of our two embryos and again I experienced a successful pregnancy, giving birth to Isabelle in 2013.
Two years later we decided to try again for another baby. The team at Oxford defrosted the embryo but this time after defrosting the embryo wasn’t a good quality and there was only a 50:50 chance of success. This time I didn’t become pregnant but felt content that we had tried and had been given all the facts sensitively.
I am passionate about raising awareness of endometriosis. Had I been diagnosed earlier, I could have avoided surgery and years of pain. I’ll never know if it would have let me conceive naturally. It can also be passed down through a family, and so I will be sure to let Isabelle know about the symptoms when the time is right. I would encourage any woman who is experiencing problems with their periods to look at the symptoms of endometriosis and if in any doubt, ask to be tested.”