EastEnders star Rita Simons, 45, reveals she has undergone a hysterectomy after suffering from unbearably painful periods
Rita Simons has candidly detailed her decision to recently undergo a hysterectomy after struggling with ‘debilitating’ periods which left her unable to work.
The EastEnders actress, 45, admitted she was upset by the idea she would no longer be able to get pregnant, but insisted her ‘health must come first’.
Rita, who has the full support of her boyfriend Ben Harlow, explained how she wanted to end ‘years of suffering’ both mentally and physically.
Honest: Rita Simons has candidly detailed her decision to recently undergo a hysterectomy after struggling with ‘debilitating’ periods which left her unable to work
Speaking to OK! magazine, discussed the emotions she went through after being told surgery was her best option to alleviate the symptoms.
She said: ‘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…’
Rita, who is mother to twin girls Jaimee and Maiya, 16, said she did not consider having more children but it is still ‘strange’ to have the choice taken away.
Strong: The EastEnders actress, 45, admitted she was upset by the idea she would no longer be able to get pregnant, but insisted her ‘health must come first’
The former soap star began dating her current partner Ben during the 2020 lockdown following her divorce from ex-husband Theo Silveston.
Rita explained that her ‘sweet’ boyfriend ‘knows’ not to mention having more children know that it is ‘completely off the table’ for them.
The star told how she first spoke to a doctor about her ‘debilitating and irregular periods’ during the early months of their new relationship.
Family: Rita, who is mother to twin girls Jaimee and Maiya, 16, said she did not consider having more children but it is still ‘strange’ to have the choice taken away (pictured with her children)
Rita’s periods would negatively affect her OCD and anxiety and left her unable to work during the weeks where they spiked.
She said: ‘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. It was debilitating and I knew I couldn’t go through that every month.
‘My emotions got completely freaked out every month. It got to the point where I must have five days a month where I’m OK and then I start ovulating again and it’s all downhill.’
Love: The former soap star began dating her current partner Ben (pictured right) during the 2020 lockdown following her divorce from ex-husband Theo Silveston
At first Rita tried a hormonal mix of estrogen and progesterone, however the concoction left her feeling sick and she knew it wasn’t a long-term fix.
She was then told the ‘only option’ was to remove her womb, cervix and both ovaries in a total radical hysterectomy, which she described as an ‘attack on her femininity’.
However she admitted the benefits to her mental health outweighs the side effects, which she says is good for her daughters and Ben.
Before meeting Ben, Rita previously confessed she considered ‘throwing herself down the stairs’, while battling anxiety and depression.
In January 2022, Rita revealed she was struggling to cope with the breakdown of her 14-year marriage to husband Theo and it ‘ate her up’ keeping the news quiet.
End of the road: In January 2022, Rita revealed she was struggling to cope with the breakdown of her 14-year marriage to husband Theo and it ‘ate her up’ keeping the news quiet (pictured with Theo in 2017)
She told The Sun: ‘It was all kind of lumped into one big mess and I was very ill a lot of the time. I lost a lot of weight. And I wasn’t telling people about the marriage because although my kids knew, I didn’t want them reading about it. That just ate me up, not being able to tell people what was really going on.’
Revealing her rock bottom moment, she recalled one night during a performance of The House On Cold Hill in 2019: ‘There were some stairs on the set that I came on stage on, quite high at the top.
‘And I thought I could just chuck myself down. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to hurt myself enough to go to hospital and have someone look after me. That was scary.’
Rita – who played Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders from 2007 to 2017 – married hairdresser Theo in 2004, but they split 2018, with their divorce being finalised in 2020.
Rita admitted she struggled to get out of bed when she was at her worst.
She said: ‘When I look back, I used to be quite aggressive, hardened and defensive, like I was on guard all the time.
‘If something bad happened, I’d be the first to go, ‘Raagh!’, and start screaming.’
Rita said she used to challenge her anger at the gym where she took up boxing, insisting she doesn’t lose her temper today and that the time away from her marriage has ‘softened’ her.
Reflecting on some of her lowest moments, the former I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! campmate said: ‘It was a deep sadness, I would say a depression. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.’
While the star, who has battled anxiety and OCD from around the age of seven, knew she should take some time out, she kept herself busy with work, signing up to appear in West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and pantomime Sleeping Beauty after leaving EastEnders as Roxy Mitchell in 2017.
Rita is still friends with Theo today but described their divorce process as ‘cold’ and ‘clinical’.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
Struggles: Rita is still friends with Theo today but described their divorce process as ‘cold’ and ‘clinical’ (pictured in 2019)
WHAT IS A HYSTERECTOMY?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a woman’s uterus.
There are three kinds:
- PARTIAL HYSTERECTOMY: Removes two-thirds of the uterus.
- TOTAL HYSTERECTOMY: Removes uterus and cervix.
- RADICAL HYSTERECTOMY: Removes uterus, cervix and vagina.
The operation is most commonly performed on women between the ages of 40 and 49.
More than 20 million American women have had a hysterectomy, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As women approach menopause, the odds that they will develop one of several serious uterine health conditions increases. Doctors may recommend a hysterectomy as a treatment for:
- uterine (endometrial) cancer
- chronic uterine pain or bleeding
- collapsed uterus
In some cases, doctors may suggest a hysterectomy as a preventative measure if a woman has significant warning or early signs of developing one or more of these conditions.
When necessary, surgeons may also remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes, if these have also been damaged or are at serious risk of damage.
The removal of reproductive organs sends a woman’s body into menopause, no matter how old she is.
This comes with unpleasant side effects like hot flashes, and many women have to start hormone therapy, taking estrogen to balance out their own hormones.
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