holding hands for comfort

Speak Up About Your Health – Thyroid Awareness Week

It’s Thyroid Awareness Week. For something that’s a small butterfly shaped gland, the thyroid is so powerful, and can attack many different parts of the body if there’s an imbalance of hormone levels. Although I haven’t had an official diagnosis, I want to share my story as my symptoms and test results are leaning towards and under active thyroid (hypothyroidism). I also know a few people that have a thyroid condition, some under active and others over active (hyperthyroidism). I need to have one more test in a couple of months to be able to get a clear answer. This will help to determine whether there’s a need to start me on levothyroxine.

If you are wondering whether you could fall into the under active thyroid category, hopefully this post will shed some light and help you get the answers you need.

Since 2011, my thyroid levels (mainly TSH) have up and down like a yo-yo. In the last 6 months, they have been higher than usual. Every time something has lowered or increased, I have been advised, “It’s okay, it’s borderline.” But how does that interpret what’s low/high for every individual? We are all different and have different medical history, some heavier for some than others.

Since 2009, I have experienced a number of medical issues, some in more recent months, including:

  • Migraines (I was subscribed to Propranolol 80mg for 8-9 years by the hospital)
  • High blood pressure (controlled by medication)
  • Slow transit constipation/IBS – and now rectal bleeding – I am currently waiting for a sigmoidoscopy appointment
  • Tingling like pins and needles all over my body, on a daily basis
  • Longer, heavier, and more painful periods (to the point where sometimes, I only have a week window until my next one in-between the period itself and extra bleeding in-between)
  • Low iron levels
  • Raised cholesterol – this could be caused by a gene my mum has called ‘Familial hypercholesterolaemia‘ (I’ll just stuck to calling it FH!)
  • Low vitamin D – no chance of a beach holiday just yet though eh!

    Thyroid UK have reported on their Instagram account this week that, a lack of Vitamin D can be associated with thyroid disease.

Overall, I feel completely drained, and tend to have a lot of foggy moments. It’s been incredibly challenging in the more recent months, leading to low thoughts and feeling like giving up on finding answers. The weight gain on top of bloating due to bowel issues, not that many people notice, has still took quite a toll on me. However, with an extra influence from my boyfriend, I decided it was time to make a change. I have joined a new GP practice and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I am heading in the right direction now.

During the last 6 or so months, I have been experiencing more cervical bleeding in between periods and after sex. So, with that on top of the rectal bleeding, you can understand why I’m on iron medication. 

I have an unexplained excruciating pain on the left side of my abdomen which could be caused by gynaecological problems or relating back to my bowel… or both? I don’t know at this stage but the pain has worsened over the last 12 months. My colposcopy results revealed there was nothing sinister and the cells which were causing me to bleed were treated. The only comment was that, my cervix still had some inflammation but it could be “a hormonal issue”. 

Although having the copper coil was good choice for me health wise (or so it seemed at the time as I can’t take other contraceptives), having it removed could be the next step. It wouldn’t scare me if anything happens as a result of this. I dream of having children, so I hope I get to experience this coming true in the near future once everything’s sorted. 

I am sharing this personal story in the hope that, if you ever develop symptoms, always push for answers. Your health is more important than anything – mentally and physically. Remember to look after yourself. I never used to speak up in the past but now I am glad to finally be getting somewhere. The answers might not be what you want to hear but it means you can get the help you need. 


If you have a thyroid condition, share your story on Facebook or Twitter using #ThyroidAwarenessMonth. Thyroid UK have lots of useful resources and support available on their website: https://thyroiduk.org/

woman's hands typing on laptop in hospital environment

My Experience of Having a Colposcopy Procedure

When I mentioned to the odd person that I was referred to gynaecology for a colposcopy, they replied, “Oh you are going for a colonoscopy?” Nope – a colPOSCOPY. 

Initially, I was told it was a 35 week wait for a referral. Then, I told my GP that I was willing to go to any hospital. Shortly afterwards, I had a telephone consultation and was sent a letter in the post for a colposcopy appointment – all within 4 weeks. Getting the appointment for the right date was important because well, the main reason for my appointment was due to so much more bleeding than usual. At first, I attended but they couldn’t carry out the procedure due to heavy bleeding so I had to re-book. Then, I needed a COVID-19 test because I had coronavirus symptoms. Finally, I was able to go for my appointment at the hospital a few days after the test as the result was negative. Third time lucky kinda thing! 

Why was I sent for a colposcopy?

For around 6 months now, I’ve had irregular bleeding and dark discharge throughout my menstrual cycle. My periods have been longer and much heavier, causing me to have accidents, which I didn’t even experience at 12 years old when I had my first period! Although, I’m coming up to 3 years since I had the copper coil fitted, it is expected that periods can be heavier when you have this type of IUD. However, other signs indicated that further investigation was needed. I continue to experience a sharp pain in my left side during and after sex, a much heavier cramping sensation during my periods, and overall fatigue and weakness. Whenever I get a pain in my side, I have to wonder if it’s cervix or bowel related. Having the two combined is… very uncomfortable. The pelvic pain though is more of a constant stab feeling.

I had a scan a few years ago to see if I had polycystic ovaries – but I didn’t. More recently I had an ultrasound and they said everything was fine and nothing sinister was apparent. However, before that, I had a cervical examination and cells were found on the outside of my cervix and the area was also inflamed. During that moment, I realised that when I had my first smear, the nurse did comment that it was “slightly red” and now, “it looks quite red”. The nurse said it looks as though as I have some ectropion bleeding, also known as cervical erosion which sounds scarier than it is. As soon as she touched my cervix with a cotton swab, it bled.

Unfortunately, I am also seeing blood when I go to the toilet (when I’m lucky enough to be able to go that is) and again, I get an excruciating pain on the left of my abdomen but that’s another story to tell you once I’ve had a sigmoidoscopy.

A couple of months ago, I was prescribed iron tablets because my iron levels were very low. It’s no surprise really when I’ve lost so much blood. They don’t help the bowel issues though because they can make you more bunged up. At least they help my iron levels though. There’s always a positive eh!

How did it feel to have a colposcopy for the first time?

Having a smear, cervical examination, or getting a coil fitted, doesn’t bother me. This procedure was also fine. I lay down and was told to relax and let the padded supports take the weight of my legs and push myself forward a little further. Just a warning if you are squeamish, everything can be seen on the screen beside you. I was completely fine with it other than seeing where I was bleeding around my cervix. It got me feeling a little sad because I just wanted it to go away. But apparently, it can be such a common thing for women. 

The nurse applied a couple of different liquids to highlight if there were any abnormal areas (biopsies are also taken if they think anything might be there). Overall, the cervix looked okay other than some inflammation again, but nothing to worry about. Medicine was applied to the cells that shouldn’t have been on the outside of my cervix, so hopefully this will reduce the bleeding in-between periods. But unfortunately, they don’t think it’ll answer the longer and heavier periods. The colposcopist is sure it’s hormone related which isn’t a shock as I am currently having my thyroid investigated. All I can do is persevere for a little while longer and see what happens after further tests. 

Swabs were also taken and I was given a sanitary pad for any bleeding and discharge. During these type of procedures, I prefer to let the nurses do what they need to do and get it over and done with. Maybe I’m luckier in the sense I could be one of those people who can persevere through the twinges and slightly uncomfortable feelings inside.

I did feel some discomfort afterwards, which was mostly period-like. Once I got home, I put my pyjamas on and had a cup of tea which of course was much cosier!

They said bleeding or brown discharge can occur 3-5 days after the procedure. Update: it’s a week afterwards now and I’m still getting this, which means I’ve bled for 3 weeks. Hopefully it’ll wear off soon.

The gynaecology department at Rochdale hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital have been so lovely and have made me feel comfortable throughout the whole process. If you are referred for a colposcopy, don’t ignore it or put it off, please attend. The nurses will make you feel as comfortable as they possibly can. 

I think what scares me, is knowing what my mum went through with two of her pregnancies (one being me). But hopefully there won’t be any reason why I can’t have a healthy pregnancy in the future. It’s one of my biggest dreams to have children. Many times, I have pictured so much in my head like, looking out of the kitchen window to see them playing in the garden or all of the first-time experiences that will be like no other. It’s important to keep a positive mindset and look forward to the future though. 

More information on how to prepare for a colposcopy and what happens can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colposcopy/