What is endometriosis? Condition explained - and why Chelsea boss Emma Hayes had a hysterectomy

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In a statement, the Chelsea boss said that she would ‘need time and patience to return to full health’

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has revealed she is recovering after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy last week. The 45-year-old, who has been battling endometriosis, said in a statement on the club’s official website that she will “need time and patience to return to full health”.

But what exactly is a hysterectomy, and how does it help with endometriosis? This is what you need to know.

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What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a long term condition where tissue similar to the one in the lining of the womb (uterus) is found elsewhere in the body, like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is a condition that can occur at any age, including teenagers.

Manager of Chelsea Women, Emma Hayes, has said that she is in recovery after having an emergency hysterectomy as part of her ongoing battle with endometriosis (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)Manager of Chelsea Women, Emma Hayes, has said that she is in recovery after having an emergency hysterectomy as part of her ongoing battle with endometriosis (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Manager of Chelsea Women, Emma Hayes, has said that she is in recovery after having an emergency hysterectomy as part of her ongoing battle with endometriosis (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person - while some may be badly affected, others may not have many noticeable symptoms at all. Common symptoms of the condition include:

  • Pain in your lower stomach or back (pelvic pain), which is usually worse during your period 
  • Period pain that stops you from doing your normal activities 
  • Pain during or after sex 
  • Pain when peeing or pooing during your period 
  • Feeling sick or experiencing constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee or poo during your period 
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the womb (uterus) is removed, meaning that the patient will no longer have any periods and will not be able to get pregnant. There are three ways that the procedure can be carried out:

  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy (also known as keyhole surgery), in which the womb is removed through several small cuts made in the stomach
  • Vaginal hysterectomy, where the womb is removed through a cut made at the top of the vagina 
  • Abdominal hysterectomy, which is when the womb is removed via a cut made in the lower stomach 

A hysterectomy is categorised as a major operation, with the recovery time usually around six to eight weeks to fully recover, although this can vary from person to person.

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How will a hysterectomy help with endometriosis?

The NHS website lists endometriosis as a possible reason as to why a person may need to get a hysterectomy. It states that “a hysterectomy may remove the areas of endometrial tissue causing the pain”, but that it will only be considered as an opinion if other, less invasive, treatments have been unsuccessful, and the woman decides not to have, or is unable to have, children.

A hysterectomy will only be considered as an opinion if other, less invasive, treatments have been unsuccessful (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)A hysterectomy will only be considered as an opinion if other, less invasive, treatments have been unsuccessful (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A hysterectomy will only be considered as an opinion if other, less invasive, treatments have been unsuccessful (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) | Getty Images

There is no cure for endometriosis, but other treatments include:

  • Painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Hormone medicines and contraceptives, like the combined pill, contraceptive patch, intrauterine system (IUS) and contraceptive implant, and medicines called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues
  • Surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue

What has Emma Hayes said?

In a statement released on Thursday (13 October), Hayes said: “Last Tuesday (11 October) I underwent an emergency hysterectomy following my ongoing battle with endometriosis. I’m now in recovery and will need time and patience to return to full health.

“I just want to say thank you also to my amazing doctors, Dr Alex Laurence and Dr Sally Harris for their outstanding care. A huge thank you to our owners, the board and our HR director, Jo Stone, for the support they’ve shown and of course all of my family, staff and players.

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“Throughout my absence, Denise Reddy will be making the on-field decisions along with Paul Green who will be carrying out all press obligations on my behalf.

Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea, poses for a photograph as they speak to the media after the final whistle of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea, poses for a photograph as they speak to the media after the final whistle of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)
Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea, poses for a photograph as they speak to the media after the final whistle of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“We have built a tremendous team over many years and we’ve adopted a very multi-disciplinary approach so that if situations like this arise, we are capable of being able to respond to the challenge. We have full confidence in Paul, Denise and all of the staff.

“We also know the team are very special and we have no doubt they’ll do everything to maintain their high standards.

“To our fans, you’ve had to listen to me bellowing from the other side of the pitch every week but now I want to hear you even louder because I’ll be sitting at home watching the team on the television until my return.

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“I know you’ll respect that my health comes first and at this time I’ve got to prioritise what I need to do for me. I fully expect to make a full recovery and I look forward to seeing you in the foreseeable future.”

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