By Laurie B. Landeen, MD, FACOG, Sanford Clinic Women’s Health
Do you frequently have heavy periods that last more than five to seven days? Does heavy bleeding keep you from enjoying your life to the fullest? If so, you’re not alone – and there are treatment options available to you.
One in five women in the United States suffers from the embarrassment and awkwardness heavy bleeding can cause. While it is not a life-threatening condition, heavy bleeding can certainly disrupt a woman’s quality of life. At times, the condition can stop women from engaging in what is important to them — from social activities to their children’s school functions. Excessive bleeding, also called menorrhagia, can be caused by polyps or fibroids in the uterus or enzyme deficiencies.
Until recently there were only two types of treatments for heavy bleeding: hormonal treatments or surgery, often a hysterectomy. Today, thanks to advances in surgical technology, there are less invasive options including the Mirena® IUD and endometrial ablation.
The Mirena® IUD Reduces Bleeding and Provides Birth Control
The Mirena® IUD is most often used for reversible long-term birth control, but is also a suitable treatment for heavy bleeding. It works by thinning out the uterine lining which results in very light or no bleeding. Mirena® can be used to reduce menstrual flow even if a woman does not need it for birth control. It can be placed right in the office without any anesthesia.
Endometrial Ablation is a Non-Invasive Alternative to Surgery
An endometrial ablation can be used for women who need surgical treatment but want to avoid a hysterectomy. The procedure eliminates the lining of the uterus using thermal energy. It requires no incision and can be performed in an office or as outpatient surgery. It also has high rates of effectiveness and over 90% patient satisfaction.
Physicians across the country are choosing this treatment because it controls heavy bleeding without hormones or complex surgery. “I am pleased to offer this procedure to my patients,” says Zane Craig, DO, FACOG an OB/GYN specialist at Sanford Clinic Worthington. “My patients appreciate the opportunity to treat excessive bleeding with a quick procedure that has a short recovery time,” he says.
The first ablations were done in the early 1980’s and many new generations of devices have come into the market over the last decade. The most widely used device is called Novasure®. It is an intrauterine mesh system with the shortest ablation treatment time of approximately 90 seconds. Clinical trials for Novasure® confirm a success rate of 91% and a patient satisfaction rate of 90%.
Is endometrial ablation an option for you? If the following statements ring true, you may be a possible candidate:
- You have excessive uterine bleeding
- Your non-surgical treatment has been unsuccessful
- You are not currently pregnant and do not desire a future pregnancy
- You have no current pelvic infection
- You have no known or suspected endometrial cancer
If you are suffering from frequent, heavy bleeding talk to your doctor to learn what treatment options are best for you.