Why are women expected to endure pain during medical procedures? | Letters

Re your report (‘The pain is inhumane’: how NHS gynaecology delays affect women’s health, 2 June), in 2008 I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The diagnostic process involved having a hysteroscopy, where a camera is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus.

No anaesthesia or sedation was offered, and I found it so painful that the nurse who was holding my hand asked the doctor to stop and I later had the procedure under general anaesthetic. A couple of years later I was referred to a gastroenterology department for bowel problems following the 20 sessions of radiotherapy I’d had for the cancer, and I had a colonoscopy. It was normal for the procedure to be carried out with sedation – no question of doing it without.

Why the difference? I have known several other women who have had hysteroscopies, or had coils fitted without sedation and have experienced excruciating pain.

Does the medical profession consider that because some of us go through childbirth we don’t need pain relief in gynaecological investigations? The pain is indeed inhumane and the withholding of pain relief would not be tolerated in other invasive procedures.
Trish Kelly

Obviously, we’re all glad the Queen has reached the age of 96. But I wonder how many more women would reach the same age if they had the same access to immediate diagnosis and medical treatment that she has had all her life (Dismissal of women’s health problems as ‘benign’ leading to soaring NHS lists, 2 June).
Sue Ward
Newcastle upon Tyne

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