A woman has told how her periods were so painful she opted to go through the menopause early – aged 29.
Jade Spargo has suffered with excruciating monthly pain since she was a teenager and would regularly be unable to leave home due to her agony, and even quit her job.
Maternity support worker Jade begged doctors for help for years but claims they took no notice until she demanded a hysterectomy.
The shock request led doctors to fully investigate her symptoms and she was diagnosed with adenomyosis and endometriosis.
Doctors convinced Jade to hold off having a hysterectomy in favour of injections to start the menopause.
Jade, from Truro, Cornwall, will never give birth herself – and one month in she has yet to see if it takes away her monthly pain for good.
“My periods have been extremely painful ever since I first hit puberty, and I absolutely dread that time of the month,” said Jade, who has two children with partner Sabrina Spargo, 34, who carried the pregnancies.
“I knew there was something wrong with me, but doctors were so dismissive, telling me that I had heavy periods and to just ‘deal with it’.
“I was in so much pain every month and it was honestly ruining my life – I couldn’t move, I was losing so much blood, and I couldn’t even go to work some days.
“It wasn’t until I reached breaking point and begged for a hysterectomy that they actually started listening to me and I’m still angry I had to reach that point to get help.
“Hearing that I would be going through menopause so early because of my medical conditions was difficult and it did really get me down.
“But I am desperate for the pain to stop – my most recent period was a week ago and I thought something was seriously wrong, I’ve never had pain like it and I was on morphine for six days.
“I’ve just given up my contract on the maternity ward and signed onto the bank for less frequent shifts as my illness has been so bad, which has really gutted me.
“I do still want a hysterectomy, but the doctors want to try me on injections every four months for early menopause first and hold back the hysterectomy for another two years if possible.
“The early menopause is not fun – I had my first injection a few weeks ago and the hot flushes are horrendous, I’ve got night sweats and crazy moods, I must be a nightmare to live with!”
Jade was 16-years-old when she got her first period in 2006 and immediately experienced pain and heavy bleeding.
She started taking the combined contraceptive pill to manage the pain but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on her excruciating periods.
The young teenager battled through each monthly cycle as she fought to not let her menstrual cramps stop her from going to university to study animal science.
Jade said: “I kept a separate bag at school with spare clothes and underwear and god knows how many pads in. It was horrendous.
“I only missed a few days off school because of it but it made doing my GCSEs and A Levels really difficult.
“I can remember sitting my GCSE English Language exam and I had started my period the day before.
“I was so nervous about bleeding through in front of the whole year, I couldn’t concentrate very well on the exam at all.”
Over the next decade, Jade’s doctors tried her on a variety of contraceptive pills to try and make her periods more manageable.
She was pleased when her pain subsided slightly in 2009 and hoped she had grown out of it, but her agony returned with a vengeance in 2013.
By this point, Jade had met her partner Sabrina Spargo, 34, and the pair dreamed of having a family together.
Jade said: “Sabrina and I both wanted to have a children and we came up with a plan of how we’d build up our family together.
“We wanted four children – Sabrina would carry our first two kids, and then I would carry our third and fourth.
“Sabrina has always been very supportive and understanding about my periods, and the impact they have on my mental health.
“I always believed my mental health struggles were connected to my physical pain, and only recently have doctors acknowledged they could be linked.
“It was also a huge toll on me mentally to have my pain dismissed by doctors who gave me ridiculous advice to ‘deal with’ my periods.
“Doctors told me to lose weight and exercise more even though I’ve never been overweight, I’ve always been a size 10, and even advised me to wear different clothes!
“I have struggled with self destructive thoughts as a result, and Sabrina always helps me through these moments and calms me down.
“I couldn’t even walk around the corner to the shop, that’s how painful it was.
“I just couldn’t move when I was on my period, it was like I couldn’t breathe.”
Jade’s pain got increasingly worse from 2013, affecting her everyday life to the point that she couldn’t walk or ride a bike.
Although she enjoyed working, Jade’s agony grew increasingly difficult to manage and she was forced to take time off work during the most painful days of her cycle.
Jade said: “The blood clots I was passing were so bad, they’d leave me feeling dizzy.
“I would cycle to work usually but the pain got so bad I couldn’t even do that and I ended up taking a few days off each month.
“The pain got so unbearable and nobody was listening, so in the end, I begged my doctor for a hysterectomy in 2015 when I was just 25 years old.
“I’d always wanted to give birth to my own kids, but I just couldn’t handle the pain any more, the periods were ruining my life and I just broke down at the doctors and begged them to remove my womb.
“I think that made them realise that I was actually at my breaking point and they finally started listening to me.”
Doctors suspected Jade was suffering from endometriosis – a painful condition where tissue that usually grows inside the womb starts to grow in the other places.
The long term condition usually presents itself through extremely painful periods and can lead to women having fertility issues as a result.
Jade underwent a laparoscopy in 2018, commonly known as keyhole surgery, where surgeons can access the abdomen and pelvis without making large incisions.
The surgery showed that Jade was suffering from endometriosis, with tissue growing over her bowel, stomach walls, bladder and diaphragm.
In April 2019, Jade had laparoscopic excision surgery where the visible endometriotic tissue was removed.
During the surgery, doctors discovered she was also suffering from another endometrial tissue disorder called adenomyosis.
Adenomyosis is a condition where the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus, causing heavy and painful periods and sometimes infertility.
Jade said: “It was terrifying to hear that I had not one painful condition but two, but at the same time, I was relieved to finally have an answer for my pain.
“For years, doctors had been telling me to just ‘get on with it’ when I complained of period pain, so to finally have a diagnosis is actually really reassuring.
“Both endometriosis and adenyomisis affect your fertility, and although I did want to go through pregnancy myself, I do feel blessed to already have two children.
“Sabrina has carried our two beautiful girls, giving birth to Willow in November 2016 and Tilda in May 2019, so I feel very lucky to still be a mother despite my medical conditions.
“The doctors removed what endometriotic tissue they could in my excision surgery, but it can grow back and I still have adenyomisis.”
Following the excision surgery, Jade had the mirena coil fitted to battle the adenyomisis, but had it removed after six months of agony.
Her medical condition has forced her to take reduced hours on the maternity ward where she loves to work, assisting midwives in labour.
The brave mum started having hormone injections in October 2019 to induce early menopause despite only being 29 years old.
Jade has now had to face the reality that she will never give birth herself, which has been hard for her to come to terms with whilst helping to deliver babies in her job.
Jade said: “The fact I won’t ever give birth did really hit me harder than I thought it would at first, but I am thankful to already have my two daughters with Sabrina.
“Even my daughter Willow has noticed and has been getting me my hot water bottle so I can fill it up, asking me ‘poorly belly today Mama?’
“It’s really bad how little knowledge GPs have on these conditions – the endometriosis team at The Royal Cornwall Hospital are amazing, it’s just a shame it’s taken me 13 years to get to them.
“I’m still waiting for it to get better, I had a period last week that I shouldn’t have had that left me needing morphine for six days and I’m still getting cramps. It is easing but the menopause symptoms are horrendous.”