Can a simple procedure stop painful periods?

If you suffer from painful periods a simple procedure may be able to help. Find out if endometrial ablation is right for you

Can a simple procedure stop painful periods?

Source: Best Health Magazine, Summer 2012

For as long as I can remember, I suffered from heavy, painful periods that lasted anywhere from seven to 14 days, apart from the times I was pregnant (I have two young daughters). My periods continued to get even longer, and by the time I turned 42 last year I had just one week a month when I was period-free. I would bleed so heavily during menstruation that I had to constantly change my tampons, and some days I was so exhausted from blood loss that I couldn’t get through the day, let alone function as a mom or in my busy job at the time as a caterer in Midland, Ont., where I live.

Finally last year’after a night of constant cramping that had me in tears and curled up in a ball’I decided enough was enough. I called my gynecologist and booked an appointment. Dr. Jan Moreau, based in Barrie, Ont., diagnosed me with menorrhagia (defined as unusually heavy periods). For me, menorrhagia was more than a problem with heavy bleeding; it disrupted my family, social life and everyday activities, and it affected my mood. I was willing to do anything to change things.

Dr. Moreau told me that an endometrial ablation would eliminate my symptoms. Within a month, I booked the quick outpatient procedure, which is minimally invasive and done under general anesthetic. The recovery time was a few days. I had some cramping for a few days and occasional bleeding for a few months, which is normal.

Since then, I haven’t had any painful cramping. And when I do menstruate, the bleeding is so minimal there’s no disruption to my life. Last year I had a total of eight light periods. (About 10 percent of women may still get a heavy period after the procedure and will require further treatment.) My cramps have dissipated, and my mood and energy levels during my period have improved dramatically. The procedure changed my life.

Could endometrial ablation work for you?

A last resort after non-surgical options have proven unsuccessful, endometrial ablation is non-reversible and is recommended only for women finished having children. A pregnancy after the procedure can be dangerous because the lining of the uterus (endometrium) has been removed. Though the lining of the uterus is removed, the uterus itself and the ovaries are left intact. A hand-held wand is inserted through the vagina into the uterus and 90 seconds of precisely controlled radio frequency energy removes the endometrium. (Another method involves inserting a balloon and circulating hot water through it to break down the endometrium.)

This article was originally titled "A simple procedure ended my painful periods" in the Summer 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!