Okay, I am about to discuss something on here that some may consider taboo. It may make some uncomfortable. But, it may also help someone. That is my goal.
I started menstruating at the early age of nine. At first, my periods lasted three to four days, remained regular, and I could set the calendar by them. Around the age of fourteen, my periods started getting longer and heavier. And as a young adult, I dealt with heavy monthly bleeding, with periods that would last for seven to ten days. For the longest time, I just thought it was part of life, and that I should just suck it up and deal with it. So, I did.
Then it started interfering with my life. There were days when I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed, because the cramping was so bad.
Finally, I mentioned it to my doctor. Initially, my doctor told me to take over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. Ibuprofen or Naproxen) to help ease the discomfort and pain during those times. Then at some point, when that quit helping and the cycles of Aunt Flo’s visits was more than I could stand, I was put on “the pill.” While oral progesterone and oral contraceptives are not specifically approved to treat heavy monthly bleeding, they worked for me. It was wonderful! Not only was the length of my period shortened, it was also lighter. It was not, however, less painful.
And then I had my son.
After I had Mister, I chose not to go back on the oral contraceptives. My periods started getting heavier and more painful. The doctor gave me a prescription for stronger anti-inflammatory medication, as well as pain medication.
After Sister arrived, my cycles got out of control. I would have heavy bleeding for ten days, have a brief respite for ten days, and then start bleeding again. There were days when I would literally double up in a ball on the floor, as my kids played around me. I couldn’t function. The over the counter stuff wasn’t helping. The prescription NSAIDs and pain medicine wasn’t helping. I felt like my period ruled my life for at least ten days at a time. Often times I felt like my uterus was falling out, the bleeding was so bad. I would literally stack overnight pads on top of each other, and run through them in less than an hour.
Finally, enough was enough. I called the doctor and scheduled a consult. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
During the appointment, we discussed several treatment options for heavy bleeding. One of the options we discussed was endometrial ablation. My doctor felt like I was a good candidate for endometrial ablation, as we knew our family was complete. Endometrial ablation is minimally invasive, requires little recovery time, and could be performed in the office or as an outpatient procedure. Given that I had two little ones at home, I wanted something that would allow me to recover quickly and get back to being a mom.
My doctor offered me the option of having the ablation done as an outpatient or in the office. I chose to have it done in the office. It required less recovery time, and less red tape with getting insurance approval.
I would be lying if I said that the ablation was all rainbows and candy covered raindrops. It was a bit uncomfortable and I did have some contraction-like cramps, which my doctor had explained would happen. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, the cramps with the procedure weren’t as bad as the cramps I had with my cycle, and nothing like the contractions I had with my son! After the procedure, my doctor again explained that the ablation should lessen my monthly bleeding, and that some women stop having periods altogether after an ablation. She also explained that it could take up to six months for the full effect of the ablation to be noted. I haven’t had a period in the last twelve months. I have had some minimal spotting here and there, but nothing that was even noteworthy. And the monthly pain associated with my cycle? Also eliminated. While most women have to continue oral contraceptives after an ablation (as getting pregnant after an ablation can be very dangerous), I did not have to go back on them since Hubs has had the big “V” surgery and getting pregnant was a non-issue.
Twelve months of freedom.
I dealt with heavy monthly bleeding far longer than I had to, because I was hesitant to talk with my doctor and let her know what a problem it was. I felt like it was just a part of life. Women have periods. Some women have heavy periods. Get over it. I didn’t want to say that it interfered with my life, because that would somehow make me less of of woman. Or something silly like that. The fact is, had I been more up front with my doctor, we could have come up with a treatment plan sooner.
All that to say this… if you have heavy monthly bleeding, talk to your doctor… there is help!
For tips on making the most of your appointment, check out the heavy monthly bleeding resource center on HealthyWomen.org.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Ferring Pharmaceuticals and received a promotional item to facilitate my review.