An Alternative To Hysterectomy
Menorrhagia, excessive blood loss during menstruation, is a common disorder. So common that it affects 1 in 5 women at some point in their life. Every month, a woman’s uterine lining becomes thickened in preparation for possible pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur this uterine lining is shed and is known as menstruation. In most women menses lasts from four to seven days. When bleeding lasts longer than seven days or is heavy, particularly with clotting, this is considered abnormal. Women suffering from menorrhagia can commonly use fifteen to thirty sanitary napkins, or tampons, or both in a single day. These women will often avoid daily activities such as social events, work or traveling due to these symptoms.
Treatment options over the years have included the use of hormonal therapies, uterine curettage (D & C), or hysterectomy. Endometrial ablation is a technique used to control abnormal uterine bleeding that has been available for the past ten years. Ablation procedures destroy the lining of the uterus which causes the excessive menstrual bleeding. In the past, these procedures have been time consuming, and depending on the type of procedure sometimes difficult for the operating physician to perform. Recent technological advancements have improved endometrial ablation, making this a quicker and more effective procedure, making it an attractive alternative. Most women who undergo an ablation can successfully have little or no menstrual period after this procedure.
Women who are good candidates for this procedure include:
- Women with prolonged, excessive menstrual flow who are incapacitated or severely restricted in their activities every month.
- Women who have failed past therapeutic procedures to include hormonal therapy or uterine curettage.
- Women who do not desire further pregnancy. (However this is not considered a method of sterilization).
- Women who do not have uterine or cervical pathology such as uterine cancer or large uterine leiomyomas (fibroids).
The ablation procedure offers several advantages over hysterectomy which is often performed when hormone therapy or repeated D & C procedures prove ineffective in controlling menorrhagia. Some of the benefits are:
- There is no surgical incision or organ removal.
- It can be a safe and cost effective procedure when compared to hysterectomy.
- It is performed as an outpatient procedure, no hospitalization required.
- Ovarian hormone status is not altered or affected.
- Enables women the option to resume normal activities within 4-7 days.
If you feel that you might benefit from this procedure, talk to your doctor. For many women it has given them freedom from their symptoms and an improved lifestyle, without a dramatic or extreme effect on their body.