TIMES can be a tricky time of the month, but one woman was bleeding so profusely it looked like a crime scene.
Abigail Oleck-Hewett, 49, suffered so-called “bloodbath periods” that affected her relationships, her job and her chances of having children.
The Surrey business owner said her period left her like a “shadow” of her “former self” as she endured two weeks of excruciating pain and crippling anxiety every month.
Her period has also ended her chances of fulfilling her lifelong dream of having a baby after doctors were forced to remove her uterus to end her condition this month.
After experiencing unusually heavy periods during her teenage years, Abigail was diagnosed with fibroids – benign growths that develop in or around the uterus.
According to the NHS, fibroids are quite common, with around one in three women developing them at some point in their lives.
In some cases, other complications caused by fibroids can interfere with pregnancy or cause infertility.
After her diagnosis, Abigail chose not to have her fibroids removed because the surgical risks included infertility and she wanted a family.
There are also risks associated with not having fibroids removed, but Abigail claims she wasn’t warned about it at the time.
“It’s a double-edged sword as I didn’t know that keeping fibroids can also affect conception and since they are non-cancerous I decided to go ahead with that,” she explained.
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At the age of 37, Abigail became pregnant but miscarried just seven weeks later.
“From then on, my periods just got out of hand,” she recalls.
“I think the period was ten times worse than the miscarriage.”
Over a 14-month period, she visited the hospital four times because of the sheer volume of bleeding.
There, her surgeon told her the pain was equivalent to 72 hours of labour.
“Every month, [my periods] got progressively worse and soon became unbearable so I was advised to go on the pill and stop my period altogether.
“However, four months later I flooded my entire bed and called the doctor who told me it was a typical side effect of the pill.”
Abigail’s period and the pain it caused began to dominate her life.
The period was ten times worse than the miscarriage
“It was incredibly isolating, I had to cancel plans with friends, clients and family because the pain was so excruciating,” she said.
“I was sick half the month and as someone who owns a busy business I lose so much money not being able to work.
“I started withdrawing from people and couldn’t really relate to anyone because I didn’t feel stable,” she explained.
In a cruel twist of fate, the fibroids made her look like she was pregnant as they pushed up the organs in her stomach.
“I hated the way my body looked — everyone who didn’t know me thought I was pregnant,” she explained.
“Sometimes I really like it for a brief moment when I rub my stomach and think about what it would be like to be pregnant.”
A few months after starting the pill, Abigail’s period ended up in the emergency room again when she started bleeding dangerously.
“I went down the stairs to the bathroom and there was a pool of blood on the floor that looked like a murder scene,” she said.
After being admitted to the hospital, Abigail was told her fibroids had gone untreated for too long and she was left with only one option: a hysterectomy.
The surgery went well and the doctors were able to save Abigail’s ovaries, meaning she can still have children through surrogacy.
However, she will not be able to fulfill her dream of becoming pregnant and having her own child.
FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE
Abigail hopes to pave the way for other women who also suffer from debilitating periods and fibroids.
She is in favor of urging the UK government to acknowledge and support people whose periods are disrupting their daily lives.
“I’m done, this isn’t for me, but it will benefit my mental health knowing it will help others,” Abigail explained.
“I want to fight for the future and that will give me the strength to know that my pain was worth it in the end.
“I have found information and solace in the online community, but if I could go back to my former self I would have asked my GP for more advice.
“Take control of your own body and make informed decisions about your future – we need to end the taboo on women’s issues.
“We suffer in silence and hide in bedrooms – it’s time to come out and shout about it.”
Abigail has started a petition to urge the government to do more to support women struggling with their periods, which you can sign here.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/6059111/people-think-im-six-months-pregnant-fibroids/ I looked six months pregnant due to painful conditions — but the truth is heartbreaking