By Josh Saunders
A mum has undergone a hysterectomy in her 30s to beat the ‘living hell’ caused by endometriosis and PMDD that left her suicidal, unable to work and bleeding so heavily she was hospitalised.
Sophie Passmore, 32, from Bedfordshire, is relieved to have her life back after opting to start early menopause following her 16-year battle with chronic pain and PMDD, a debilitating form of severe PMS.
She suffered such heavy periods that in the past she required an ambulance four times, later was left unable to work two weeks out of every month and ‘put her own life at risk.’
Doctors prescribed antidepressants and contraception to curb the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and endometriosis, without any success.
One psychotic episode caused by the disorder left her at her grandfather’s grave alone, having abandoned her car in the middle of the road and unable to remember how she got there
She battled to have a hysterectomy, just like Girls TV show creator LENA DUNHAM who publicly spoke out.
Two months ago, Sophie underwent the procedure which has ended her suffering and helped her to lead a normal life for the first time since her teenager years.
She is now an ambassador for charity Wellbeing for Women, who are funding research into endometriosis – which affects a whopping 1.5million women in the UK.
Sophie, a project controller for defence company and florist, said: “I did feel quite emotional about it and went through a deliberating process to clarify my thoughts.
“But after reading how many times I put my life at risk from my diary and experiences, I knew having a hysterectomy was a necessity.
“I felt relieved when I came around from surgery, I had a mental clarity like I’d never had before, it was as if something was lifted and I was able to process my thoughts.
“I’m so relieved to have my life back, the endometriosis caused so much pain and blood loss over the years, which severely limited me.
“I could never be in the pool on holidays, relationships with endometriosis were tough because I would bleed for nine months of the year.
“It was draining and had been like that since I was a teenager, in adulthood, PMDD turned me from someone who wanted to be a brilliant mom to struggling to keep myself alive and regularly putting my life at risk.
“Now, while I’m going through extreme menopausal symptoms its manageable compared to what I was suffering with before.
“Menopause won’t make me risk my life or feel suicidal and think about ending it all, every single month for years.
“It’s frightening because not enough doctors and medical staff know what PMDD or endometriosis is. I encounter this constantly, most are unaware.
“It was alarming how for most of my life I was drugged up to the eyeballs on antidepressants and antipsychotics, instead of medical staff listening to what I was saying.
“Suicide attempts in endometriosis and PMDD is very high, a lot of these woman have children too.
Sophie was put on Prozac from the age of 13 to combat her severe PMS that would later be diagnosed as endometriosis and PMDD.
She said: “I would feel really emotional, teary and wouldn’t be able to concentrate, it affected my school work most definitely.
“I remember feeling distant, distracted and sensitive to any noise in the classroom, which only seemed to make it so much worse.
“My advice is to any young women is to talk to a parent or responsible adult and keep a journal or diary, I used to write so that I always had something to look back on.
“If you go to a GP with a record they are far more likely to take you seriously than without any evidence.”
Her endometriosis was so severe between the ages of 16 and 22 that she was forced to call an ambulance four times.
Sophie said: “I was flooding with blood and it was really frightening, people at the hospital were brilliant, but nothing was done to investigate further.
“I remember bleeding so heavily that I had to call an ambulance, I felt awful and at times suicidal even back then.
“Every time I gave feedback on the contraceptive measure I was told it worked with other women and that I had to carry on with it and nothing was wrong.
“The symptoms were terrible, it’s hard to get people to listen to you at that age and from my experience they just shove prescriptions at you.”
This led to her having a laparoscopy to remove the tissue growing outside of her uterus – the endometriosis – but after having her children aged 20 it returned with vengeance.
Sophie recalled one troublesome time, when her twin daughters, now 11, were babies and she was unable to help them due to the disorder.
She added: “One awful time when my daughters were seven months old, I remember hearing them cry in their cot, it was so traumatic as I couldn’t get up to soothe them and passed out due to extreme blood loss.
“Looking back, I feel angry thinking about the amount of times I had to see somebody and was told to get on with it or given another pill that would only make things worse, especially as many contraceptive pills/implants can exacerbate PMDD.”
At 28-years-old, her PMDD symptoms came back worse and would later leave her incapable of taking care of herself, frequently having to take sick days, experiencing severe disassociation and eventually leading to a mental breakdown.
Sophie said: “I went from being someone who would love to help my kids with their homework and make cakes, to them standing in front of me and being unable to interact.
“At work I went from being a well-respected and model-employee to someone who was seen as flaky and unreliable with extensive sickness leave that meant I was away two weeks out of every single month.
“My boss later called my partner to ask where I was. I had driven to a remote location and left the car in the middle of the road, door wide open with the keys in the ignition.
“I was found at my granddad’s grave really cold, I had wet myself and didn’t know how I had got there.”
Sophie was referred to the Mental health Crisis team where she was nearly admitted into a mental health unit, before it was recognised that her problems were hormonal.
Now she is raising awareness of PMDD and endometriosis , in the hopes of making more young women aware of the disorder and to persist on getting better treatment and diagnosis rates.
Sophie said: “Because I had diaries I could prove there was a pattern, I was sent to my gynaecologist who felt very sad for me and this time, said ‘I’m turning your ovaries off.’
“While it has been hard being menopausal, the symptoms are nothing compared to what I went through before.’’
Sophie is an ambassador for Wellbeing of Women, a charity that funds medical research into endometriosis and other female health conditions, hopes to beat the taboo around these issues by openly talking about her experience.
CEO Tina Weaver said: “With 1.5 million sufferers in the UK, endometriosis is a common condition but despite this, it can take sufferers up to 7 years to be diagnosed. Endometriosis is as common as diabetes yet receives only a fraction of funding. There is a gender bias in medical research, which means women’s health is too often overlooked.
“Wellbeing of Women wants to break the taboo around women’s health and, by funding research to find new cures and treatments for conditions such as endometriosis, help women like Sophie.”