Gynaecology is a branch of medicine which specialises in the female reproductive system. The department of gynaecology provides a mixture of general and specialist clinics. At the clinics you will either be seen by one of the six specialist consultants or a member of their team. If you require specialist treatment you will be under the care of one specialist for the duration of your treatment. General clinics are held at North Devon District Hospital and Bideford, Ilfracombe, South Molton, Stratton and Torrington Community Hospitals. The specialist clinics are held at North Devon District Hospital and are currently in:
- Pelvic pain investigation
- Gynaecological and dermatological investigation
- Menopause treatment
- Hormone replacement therapy and implants
- Abnormal bleeding and colposcopy
How do I access the service?
You will be referred by a healthcare professional e.g. GP, to either a general or specialist clinic. Below are examples of some of the conditions and treatments which are treated by the gynaecology service.
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb) and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. There are a variety of different reasons why a hysterectomy may be performed e.g. fibroids, inflammation of the lining of the uterus or cancer of the cervix. Before you undergo a hysterectomy your healthcare team will discuss the reasons for the operation and aftercare with you.
Menorrhagia (Heavy Periods) and Endometrial Ablation
Some women have very heavy bleeding during their period and it is recognised that this can have an effect on their physical, emotional, social and material quality of life. One possible treatment for menorrhagia is to remove some of the tissue lining (endometrium) of your womb. The procedure for doing this is called endometrial ablation and there are a number of methods that can be used including electrocautery, laser ablation and heated fluid. Your healthcare team will discuss with you the various methods of treating menorrhagia and which would be best for you, so that you can make an informed decision.
This is an operation to restore the vagina to its normal position and function after a vaginal vault prolapse. Vaginal vault prolapses are where the upper part of the vagina slips down and can occur after a hysterectomy.
Stress incontinence and colposuspension
Stress incontinence is a condition where a person wets themselves on exertion. This is diagnosed using a series of tests called urodynamic studies. One possible treatment is a colposuspension which involves supporting the bladder with three special stitches.
Petter Day Treatment Unit
Some of the gynaecological operations are offered as day case surgery. If this is the case you will attend the hospitals Petter Day Treatment Unit. There are six beds on the unit and the unit is only used for gynaecological or antenatal treatment so your privacy and dignity can be maintained to the highest standard. Unfortunately, this means that relatives cannot stay in the bay areas with you due to the nature of some procedures being performed. Petter Day Treatment Unit is adjacent to a theatre suite shared with labour ward and any operations would normally be carried out here. Please see the Day surgery page for more information.
Where can I find more information?
There are a variety of patient information leaflets describing different conditions and procedures available here.
Alternatively, more information on gynaecological conditions and procedures can be found on NHS choices.