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Women feel ‘violated and traumatised’ by painful hysteroscopies – and say the NHS misinformed them

Caroline remembers screaming. It was like an electric shock which went from her neck to her toes. It was like being tasered in her most intimate area. She could not move because she was scared. She called out to the doctor to stop.

“I can’t believe what happened to me was done in an NHS hospital,” Caroline, 56, says. “I feel that if they were wearing black balaclavas it would have suited what I experienced more. I felt like I was subjected to a very violent assault. That is the trauma that I’m dealing with now.”

Caroline is one of thousands of women who have faced excruciating pain when undergoing a hysteroscopy, a medical procedure used to examine inside the womb, where biopsies may be taken. It is used to detect cancer, pre-cancer and other benign abnormalities.

One in three women face severe pain during a hysteroscopy – rating it at least seven out of 10 – according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. That means thousands of women in the UK could be left traumatised by this medical procedure each year.

Campaigners believe the NHS is failing to properly inform patients of the pain they may endure. The NHS website describes it as a “simple” and “relatively quick” procedure which is “not usually carried out under anaesthetic”.

But women who have spoken to The Big Issue describe feeling “violated” during a hysteroscopy. They believe they were unable to give “informed consent” and some have been left with long-term physical and psychological trauma.

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Source: The Big Issue, 18 January 2024

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