A woman’s menstrual cycle is one of those things that’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a wonderful monthly reminder that a woman’s body is built to nurture a new life. But if you suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding or a longer-than-normal menstrual cycle, this blessing quickly becomes a curse.
When your periods are heavy, a quick errand or an evening out with friends can turn into an embarrassing situation. Heavy bleeding, otherwise known as menorrhagia, is a common condition that affects an estimated 10 million American women annually. That’s one out of every five women.
If you’re one of them, you know that heavy menstrual bleeding is far from just being inconvenient, painful, embarrassing and expensive. It not only may cause anemia, but also has a profound effect on a woman’s quality of life as she limits activities. Dr. Brandon M. Lingenfelter shares his knowledge about a treatment for heavy bleeding known as endometrial ablation.
Endometrial ablation defined
So what exactly is endometrial ablation? It’s a procedure that eliminates the source of the problem with heavy bleeding – the lining of the uterus, also called the endometrium. At our practice, we perform endometrial ablation using the Minerva® ablation system. Doctors have used this minimally invasive procedure to help more than 50,000 women suffering from heavy bleeding since the US Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2015.
Typically the first line of treatment for heavy bleeding is medications designed to lessen the menstrual flow or stop it altogether. These medications include hormones, birth control pills, and intrauterine contraception.
Previously if medication didn’t work, then the next set of options were surgical procedures, such as scraping the lining of the uterus (dilation and curettage) or a hysteroscopy. With endometrial ablation, women who have been suffering for years can regain control of their lives in less time that it takes to pick up a latte at their favorite coffee shop.
It’s a quick, in-office treatment
The Minerva ablation system uses heat energy to treat the uterine lining. Here’s how it works.
First, Dr. Lingenfelter numbs and dilates the cervix. Then he inserts a thin, soft wand into your vaginal opening until it reaches your uterus. The very tip of the wand holds the heat source, which treats the uterine lining in less than five minutes.
You can go home right after the procedure. Most women take the day to rest, as side effects may include mild cramping and discharge, but you can go back to normal activities after that.
So the procedure is fast, it’s done right in our office, and it has little downtime. That’s not all though. The biggest benefit of endometrial ablation? Two-thirds of all women who get this hormone-free, one-time treatment have zero menstrual bleeding after their procedure.
A few possible risks
Like with any medical procedure, there are certain risks associated with endometrial ablation. While infection or puncturing of the uterus are rare side effects, the majority of risks are related to pregnancy after having the procedure.
Although it’s possible for women to conceive after endometrial ablation, since the procedure may result in scarring of the uterine wall, it’s not recommended for women who may wish to become pregnant afterward. The risks include miscarriage as well as high-risk pregnancy complications for both the baby and the mother.
You and Dr. Lingenfelt can discuss the risks versus reward of endometrial ablation for your particular situation so that you can decide whether the procedure is right for you. If you’re finished having children and don’t want heavy periods to control your life any longer, book an appointment at our practice in Princeton, West Virginia. Make your appointment online or call our office today.