In May I attended The European Health Innovation Collaborative’s ‘Patient Heal Thyself’ conference – an interesting day focused on doctor-patient engagement, and how a more collaborative approach could help to improve healthcare.
One of most powerful and engaging speakers of the day was Rachel Jury, a patient advocate and blogger at Rocking2Stomas, who spoke about the importance of healthcare professionals engaging with patients on issues around sex and disability. I later interviewed Rachel on the same subject for The i, sparking some really interesting conversations with patients and healthcare professionals on Twitter.
I also wrote for Patient about why some women experience ovulation pain, and dug into the truth behind the hype around bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the menopause.
As a woman living with two stomas, I want doctors to talk about sex and disability more – for The i:
I got my first stoma when I was 24, four years after I first started suffering the effects of food poisoning. I’d graduated in Radiotherapy and Oncology from Cardiff University, and was working at the Bristol Oncology Hospital, but my bladder and bowel just wouldn’t empty. I couldn’t go to the toilet, I weighed just six and a half stone, and I looked really poorly. I loved my job but I had to have a urethral catheter, which made working in a hospital a nightmare, and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to work anymore.
After having the ileostomy, which connects my small intestine to a stoma bag, I started gaining weight again. This was a really positive sign but I struggled with my body image. Even though I could see I was getting healthier, I felt self-conscious because I was putting on weight at the same time as adjusting to life with a stoma bag.
I was so worried about how I looked, what my partner would think, and if he would cope with the impact on our sex life. I remember thinking, “how can I have sex with a stoma?” but none of the health professionals I saw ever spoke to me about that side of things, and I felt too embarrassed to ask.
Is it normal to experience ovulation pain? – for Patient:
We’re all familiar with period pain. But what about pain that occurs mid-cycle? If you’ve ever noticed a pain on one side of your lower abdomen, roughly two weeks before your period, you might be experiencing ovulation pain. We asked the experts what it is, and if it’s a cause for concern.
“Ovulation pain, sometimes known as mittelschmerz (German for ‘middle pain’) is a dull cramp or a sharp and sudden twinge that is felt around the time the ovary releases the egg during each cycle,” explains Dr Vanessa MacKay, a consultant gynaecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
The problem with ‘bioidentical hormones’ for menopause – for Patient:
If you’ve been struggling with menopausal symptoms and looking into the options, you might well have come across private menopause clinics or compounding pharmacies offering ‘bioidentical hormones’. But what exactly are they, and how do they differ from the HRT you’d get from your GP?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has long been surrounded by controversy and confusion, despite the fact it is today recognised as an effective option for treating menopause symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings, with many of the concerns about safety allayed.
“Some people use the term bioidentical hormones when they’re talking about hormones that closely resemble the ones we naturally produce,” explains Dr Heather Currie, an associate specialist gynaecologist and former chairperson of the British Menopause Society.