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  • My experience of an outpatient hysteroscopy procedure


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    Summary

    The following account has been shared with Patient Safety Learning anonymously. We’d like to thank the patient for to sharing their experience to help raise awareness of the patient safety issues surrounding outpatient hysteroscopy care.

    Content

    I recently had a hysteroscopy. I was put onto the urgent 2-week wait for gynaecology after some suspicious pelvic and trans-vaginal scans. I am 53, peri-menopausal, and had one vaginal childbirth aged 23.  

    I received no information on the procedure beforehand, just a brief phone call from the clinic to say it would be similar to a smear test, followed by the appointment letter. I researched the procedure myself using the NHS website and took the advised paracetamol/ibuprofen before arrival. On the day I wasn't asked to sign any consent form or the like. I just had to give a urine sample on arrival. 

    After a long wait in reception I was called into a small anteroom with a strange cut-out tilting chair with a bucket underneath. I know I was anxious, but in my high alert state it seemed a very alarming set up. After explaining that I have panic attacks, and worried that this environment could be a trigger, my husband came into the room with me (otherwise I think I'd have ran back out again). They gave me a sheet to wrap around my naked bottom half, no gown with a fastening was available. I did not receive any pain relief or anaesthesia. 

    I was really frightened as I saw the hysteroscope and thought how on earth is that going to get through my cervix and into my uterus! I like to think that I've a good pain threshold; but this was like nothing I've ever experienced.

    I felt the hysteroscope break through my cervix (this made me cry out in pain), and then saline was pumped into my uterus and that was extremely unpleasant. I was deep breathing to try to control myself but I couldn't stop crying and shaking with the shock of it all.

    I felt such distress that I couldn't speak.

    It was a terrible deep searing/dragging pain. The nurses were lovely and held my hand while my husband held the other, but I have to say that it was the most frightening experience I've ever been through. I looked up at my husband who was comforting me and I could see tears in his eyes too. 

    The doctor said that all appeared ok, but took some biopsies just to double check. That cutting into my womb hurt a great deal. They then put in a Mirena coil which I had agreed to just before the procedure started, as the doctor said it would help alleviate my heavy periods and thickened womb lining. 

    No one said that I may experience such intense pain during the hysteroscopy, just likely some period type pain. This comparison is not accurate at all. 

    After the procedure I was asked to get dressed. My husband helped me out of the room and I sat down in the reception area trying to hide my distress from the other people waiting in there. I eventually felt able to walk back to the car and my husband drove me home. 

    I have to say that I've been left feeling horrible after all this and I can’t stop thinking about it. I will never undergo a hysteroscopy procedure in this way again. I’m also already very frightened about when the Mirena coil will need to be removed… and that’s 4 or 5 years in the future. 

    The fear of any future internal procedures is now very real, and I find this sad as I’ve never had any concerns about undergoing these in the past

    This hysteroscopy is such a brutal outpatient procedure and I can't believe that there was no pain relief or anaesthesia offered. I’m still cramping and bleeding and I feel a bit of a wreck. 

    I felt I needed to get my hysteroscopy experience written down to try help me make sense of it, whilst wondering if this is the norm? I’m so confused if it is. I felt embarrassed by my crying and shaking… but it was shockingly painful. It's also left me feeling upset that this may be happening to other women who are already worried about their health and need to know if there’s anything wrong internally; and, like me, believe that there’s no option other than having to go through this ordeal.

    This is just my personal experience and I do appreciate that there may be other women who have had a different experience to mine. Even so, regardless of any data collected about this procedure, I find it unacceptable for any woman to be expected to bear this terrible pain and trauma.

    Further reading on the hub:

    What is your experience of hysteroscopy? Share and read other accounts in our Painful hysteroscopy community thread.

     

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    I feel very sorry about your experience. However having had to go this procedure recently I felt absolutely petrified having only being able to read about horror stories online. I’d like to reassure others going for the procedure that mine was manageable. I expressed my concerns to the hospital staff who reassured me we could stop at anytime but if I could breathe through the procedure it was possible for me to manage and a lot of women can do this. They did say gas and air could be an option. They said I might feel a sudden pain when they entered the cervix but I didn’t. I appreciated them guiding me though and having the heads up. When the hysteroscope was in the upper area that’s when I had to focus on my breathing but I didn’t need pain relief. I took 2 paracetamol an hour before. It was like a labour pain but it was manageable. It was like a cramping pain rather than a sharp pain so I could cope. It was quickly over with hardly any bleeding. A little cramping after but felt ok. The recovery was quick which is surely much better than having an epidural or being put to sleep. They reassured me that after the investigation I had no signs to worry about so I felt really happy to have been fully checked out. Please make your own judgement the doctor and nurses will guide you 👍🏻

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