Heavy Bleeding Got You Down?

  Long Island City resident Barbara Ingels*, mom to a very active 9-year-old daughter, suffered heavy bleeding every month. She found it hard to sustain the energy she needed to keep up with her daily activities as a small business owner and a volunteer at her daughter’s school.  

   Ingels’ condition affects one in every five women, about 10 million women in the United States. They suffer from menorrhagia, a condition that can significantly impinge on a woman’s daily activities. Typical symptoms are bleeding that lasts for more than seven days; it may necessitate using both a tampon and a pad, and changing them every two hours. Higher risk candidates for menorrhagia are women who are overweight, those who are over 35 years of age, those who have never been pregnant, those with hormonal imbalances, and those who have thyroid problems or diabetes. The condition can result in depression, headaches, missed work, and anemia.

   There are, fortunately, several methods of treatment. Lifestyle changes include adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet and avoiding junk food and alcohol. Drug therapy involves non-hormonal and/or hormonal medicines.  Minor procedures include D&C (dilation and curettage) and endometrial ablation.  Major surgery — a hysterectomy — is a last resort.

   Ingels had some pre-existing conditions and had had some unrelated surgery in the past, and she was worried that another unrelated medical procedure she had 18 months earlier was causing her excessive bleeding.

   “My doctor was aware of my problem and suggested that I have a D&C, which was done early in 2006,” she says. “It didn’t help me. I have had other problems with my health and I really thought I had run out of options.  When my doctor suggested endometrial ablation, it sounded good, but I wasn’t too hopeful.”

   But Ingels’ doctor used a new procedure for endometrial ablation —  NovaSure — that is helping many women.  Endometrial ablation permanently removes the endometrium (lining of the uterus) to reduce or eliminate future bleeding; the uterus itself is not removed. Endometrial ablation is only appropriate for women who have completed childbearing.

   The NovaSure System delivers precisely measured electrical energy via a slender, handheld wand to remove the endometrial lining. The procedure requires no incisions and takes only a few minutes. It is performed in a doctor’s office or during a short hospital stay.

   Before undergoing the NovaSure procedure, a woman must have a complete work-up so that a cause of the bleeding can be determined. A doctor will want to rule out any infection, fibroids, polyps, ovarian problems, and the possibility of cancer.  Although hormone therapy is an option, many women are reluctant to follow that form of treatment and will want to investigate other options.

   Ingels considered the other options available to her. But she wasn’t in favor of hormone therapy and simple lifestyle changes didn’t seem to be making a difference in her condition.  After careful consideration, she decided to have the endometrial ablation.

“I was scheduled for the procedure in the hospital at 8am and I was home by lunchtime. It was painless. I’m really glad I had this done.”

   Ingels had this procedure done over six months ago, and she has not had any more problems.  She realizes that there is the possibility of some bleeding in the future, but she is very happy for now.

   Considering her past health problem, Ingels reserved judgment for a few months, but now she is confident that excessive bleeding is something in her past.

   “With the other problems I’ve had, I really thought I wouldn’t be the ideal person to talk to about the success of this procedure. But it has worked and I’m extremely happy that I had it done. I now have enough energy to get through the day and to get done what I need to get done.”

   Endometrial ablation can be an answer for many women. It is, however, a medical procedure that carries certain risks. Any woman interested in this procedure must be sure to talk to her doctor to decide if this procedure is right for her.  For more information, log onto the websites www.aboutheavyperiods.com or www.novasure.com.

*Not her real name