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Kat’s adenomyosis story: ‘I had periods that pushed me to the brink of insanity’

After two decades of heavy, painful periods, and countless stays in hospital, Kat Francois finally received a diagnosis of adenomyosis.


Here, Kat explains how she came to terms with this gynaecological health condition, which affects as many as one in 10 women of reproductive age.

I started puberty quite early. I was 10 and the first girl in my class to start. I remember pain, from the very first day I had a period. When I reached my teen years, my periods were accompanied by vomiting. Every time I went to the doctor, I was told: “they’re normal”. But none of the other girls in my class were suffering like that.

I had to manage it through school life and the only thing offered was the contraceptive pill to help manage symptoms. Obviously, my mum wasn’t too happy with the idea of putting someone so young on the pill. As soon as I turned 18, I got the pill and I was happy to have something that would knock the symptoms on their head.

As I learned, though, the pill can take away the symptoms, but it doesn’t take away the problem. All through my life, I suffered with problematic periods. I took the pill and the contraceptive injection on and off, and if I went to the doctors they always said: “It is nothing to worry about, it’s just normal periods”.

When I got to my 30s, I decided it was time to try for a baby, so I had to come off the contraceptive injection. That is when all hell broke loose, and I had periods that pushed me to the brink of insanity. I would be vomiting for 4 or 5 days, and the vomiting would not stop until I went to hospital and was given anti-sickness injections. The pain was so bad, you’d want to smash your head against the wall.


I also suffered from very heavy bleeding, I can remember one time bleeding on the street and, luckily, I was with my partner. It was such a massive flush of blood that if anyone had seen me, they would’ve thought I was having a miscarriage.

It got to a point where, up until 2020, every month I was in the hospital because of the bleeding, the pain and the vomiting. It was extreme and was having a big impact on the quality of my life. But I happened to go into A&E one night and a doctor said: “I see you in here every month, let’s try to find out what this is. This is not normal.” They did an ultrasound and told me I had adenomyosis. I’d never heard of it. I was like: “ade-who, ade-what?” I have taught sex education for many years, but I had never heard of this condition.

Unfortunately, the problem had been left so long that I had trouble getting pregnant. I also had a low egg reserve count. If this had been found out when I was 20 or 25, maybe my fertility story would have ended differently. But it took so long to diagnose adenomyosis and to identify my fertility issues that, on top of my partner’s unfortunate diagnosis of prostate cancer, having children naturally was not an option in the end.

I was on the verge of having a hysterectomy, but my consultant gave me a Decapeptyl injection, which puts my periods to sleep. You’re not meant to take it long term because it can weaken your bones. But the doctors are letting me stay on it because I am a personal trainer and I exercise every day, including running and weight training, and my periods and bone density are being monitored. If it ever comes to a point where that doesn’t work, my next step, unfortunately, would have to be a hysterectomy.

That’s my story.

Kat’s tips for women suffering from period problems:

- Eating healthily, such as cutting out processed and sugary foods and drinks, has helped me.

- Exercising regularly helps to improve some of my symptoms and gives me focus. As a personal trainer, I strength train and run several times a week.

- Being prepared and carrying period products and painkillers is important, although sometimes these didn’t help with the heavy bleeding and pain.

- Don’t think twice about seeing a doctor or going to A&E if you are suffering.

- Taking a partner, friend or relative with you to appointments can help. When you are in pain, you are not always able to speak about your needs, or listen to what a doctor is saying.


For more information about adenomyosis, visit our information page. Learn more about the research we are funding in an article by Dr Varsha Jain, a Wellbeing of Women researcher, who is investigating why women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding.

For International Women’s Day, we are calling for greater awareness and education about menstrual health and period problems, and raising funds through the Big Give’s matched funding campaign from 8 to 15 March. If you would like to donate, please head to our Big Give page.

Update! The Big Give Appeal has been extended until 12pm on Tuesday 22 March. While we have reached our target of £20,000, you can continue to donate and help us to launch our new campaign on period problems!