Trish Kelly’s experience of not being offered pain relief for gynecological exams (Letters, June 7) is typical, but not necessarily. Pain relief is available, and using an anesthetic spray on the cervix makes a huge difference; research proves it. It should be the default for all women. The other major help is what we call ‘the local voice’ – a well-trained assistant who is there for the woman. In the NHS contraception clinic where I work as a specialist nurse, we call them an ‘advocate’, and they decide whether the doctor or the nurse should stop the procedure. It’s a big shift in balance and puts the woman back in control. She is the most important person, not the doctor.
Our clinic was the first to offer Entonox for coil procedures, and we get women referred to us “who can’t handle the pain.” This is wrong – all women have to say they won’t have a procedure without pain relief. That’s not much to ask for in 2022.
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I recently had an intrauterine device fitted to prevent the constant bleeding due to menopause. The cervix is held open in order to insert the device. I had no sedatives or pain relief. It was so painful that I passed out and then my blood pressure dropped dangerously low. I had to stay in the GP’s office for an hour afterwards on oxygen.
And I have a high pain tolerance – I labored for 30 hours and gave birth with no pain relief, but the pain I endured having my cervix cut open was like nothing else. The GP actually said just before – ‘and here comes the moment that feels like torture’.
I recently had two biopsies on my left breast. I received local anesthesia, but I felt everything and was in a lot of pain. I asked for more anesthetic, but was refused and told, “It will be over soon, my love.”
Two weeks later, I was asked to return to the hospital for two more biopsies, as the results of the last two were inconclusive. I mentioned the pain I had been through at my last appointment at the consultant and I was given a bigger dose of local anesthetic and told to let them know if I even felt the procedure . This time it was painless. It is definitely worth talking about the pain and persisting if you are rejected.