Eastenders star Rita Simons has shared her reason for undergoing a hysterectomy, explaining that living with "debilitating periods" contributed to her decision to have the procedure.
The 45-year-old actor says she opted to have the operation in order to preserve her health after battling with her periods for many years.
"Health comes first," she tells OK! Magazine. "I feel like it’s all been an attack on my femininity but my good mental health is good for my kids, it's good for [partner] Ben [Harlow]. They have felt my wrath when I’m premenstrual and they don’t deserve it."
While Simons says she knows that having the hysterectomy was the right thing for her health, it has been a challenge getting to grips with the idea that she will never carry another baby.
"As a woman, we often take for granted that you can get pregnant and then when you are not able to and the choice is taken away..." she tells the publication.
Though she says it has been "strange" getting her head around not having another child, Simons, who is mum to 16-year-old twin girls says her periods had really been impacting her life on a monthly basis.
"I was in panto and I got to the point where I was telling my agent not to book me on dates where I knew I’d be on my period, because it was so difficult to work," she explains.
"It was debilitating and I knew I couldn’t go through that every month. My emotions got completely freaked out every month," she continues. "It got to the point where I must have five days a month where I’m okay and then I start ovulating again and it’s all downhill."
In the end Simons decided to speak to a consultant about her periods, which she says had also been causing spikes in her OCD and anxiety.
Having tried a mixture of hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – which lead her to feel sick and "was not a long-term option", Simons was told that she would need to undergo a hysterectomy.
“The doctor said, ‘The only option is to remove everything',” she explains.
Simons tells OK! she underwent a total radical hysterectomy, in which her womb, cervix and both ovaries were removed and is now facing the menopause as a consequence of the operation.
Watch: Lena Dunham: '...I had chosen my own health over being able to bear children.'
Which celebrities have had hysterectomies?
The former soap star isn't the only one to share her experiences of undergoing a hysterectomy. Last year Viola Davis discussed her own reasons for having the procedure.
In an interview with The New York Times, the Ma Rainey actor explained that she had struggled with uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths of the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding, infertility and, in some cases, miscarriages.
Davis had the procedure during an operation on an abscessed fallopian tube, telling the doctor: "if I wake up and my uterus is still here, I'm going to kick your ass."
Lena Dunham has also revealed that she has undergone a total hysterectomy after years of suffering pain caused by endometriosis.
In an essay for Vogue, the former Girls actor explained that after “years of complex surgeries measuring in the double digits” and unsuccessful attempts to treat the painful disorder with “pelvic floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, colour therapy [and] acupuncture,” she finally decided to have the procedure.
Back in 2016 presenter Andrea McLean announced live on air that she was going to have the procedure. The former Loose Women panellist told viewers and audience members that she would be temporarily leaving the show for a month to have the operation and recuperate.
"Just to let you know, don't worry if you don't see me for the next month or so. I am actually going to be off at home convalescing," she said.
"I'm having a hysterectomy tomorrow – lots of personal reasons for that. I did go to the doctor's and talk about it."
Meanwhile singer Beverley Knight described feeling as if she had been hit with a "thunderbolt" when she was told she needed a hysterectomy.
The then 44-year-old was advised to undergo the procedure after being diagnosed with Uterine Fibroids - muscular tumours that grow on the womb.
"To be told you need a hysterectomy is a thunderbolt, even at 44," she said. "I had never wanted children because I always felt my work was so full on I couldn't be the mother I wanted to be, but in the back of my mind there was always an option."
What is a hysterectomy?
The NHS says a hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus). After the operation it is no longer possible to get pregnant.