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During a debate in Parliament this week Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price gave her backing to calls to improve the treatment of women undergoing hysteroscopy. The debate was called by West Ham MP Lyn Brown who has long campaigned to get greater awareness of the suffering that some women experience as a result of the procedure.

Hysteroscopy involves the insertion of a camera into the womb, past the cervix. They are used to investigate painful and heavy periods; repeated miscarriage and cancer. However, for some women patients, particularly those who have never had children, it causes severe pain. Heavy menstrual bleeding, affects as many as one in four women between the ages of 15 and 50, which means that the use of this procedure is common and affects many women. Whilst it is most often an out-patient procedure, under NHS guidelines women are able to opt for anaesthesia if they would prefer. It is clear that often women are not able to exercise their rights to make an informed choice about their treatment.

Jackie Doyle-Price said, “At the heart of all this, we need to ensure that running through every piece of treatment for women with gynaecological conditions is the ability to make informed and empowered choices—genuine choices.

In the past not enough attention has been paid to a common procedure that generates harm to far too many women. I hope that the very fact of our debate today will shine a light on the situation, because the more we can do to spread awareness, the more women are empowered to look after themselves when facing treatment in the NHS.

I have spoken to many female colleagues across the House as well—but we often feel that, when our reproductive organs are not being used for the purpose of having children, they are just an inconvenience. The NHS needs to do better. If women experience severe pain during treatment it should be stopped. And there is a real question as to whether women who have not had children should be considering this treatment at all. If women Members of Parliament cannot look after ourselves, neither can anyone else, and I have heard many tales of people often feeling diminished at the hands of the NHS.”

The Minister pledged to work with RCOG and campaigners to improve information and practice around the procedure. She said, “I am determined to ensure that women get the best possible treatment from our NHS.”