It's not exactly a woman's favorite topic, but it's something you need to talk to your doctor about from time to time. Especially when your monthly cycle becomes a problem. But for women with heavy periods, there is help.
It happens more often as a woman ages and approaches menopause. Her periods can become irregular and heavy. For some women, that it can be really heavy. "Where you're changing a pad an hour. Some women bleed so heavily that they use a pad and a tampon," said Dr. Kathleen LaFavor. And that can be a health problem. Too much blood loss can leave you anemic, and can greatly impact your daily life. "Where they're not able to leave the house, go to work, or have to leave work to change clothes," said Dr. LaFavor. But there is help.
Treatment options start with oral hormone medications or IUDs, like Mirena. "The Mirena has progesterone in it and it's placed in the uterus and thins the lining of the uterus, causing lighter periods," said Dr. LaFavor. But if that doesn't work, surgical options can be discussed. That includes a D&C, the procedure most commonly connected to miscarriages. "A D&C basically goes in and removes some of the lining of the uterus, but that lining can regenerate," said Dr. LaFavor. So that means the procedure is only temporary. A slightly more permanent option is endometrial ablation. A procedure where doctors go into the uterus and destroy the lining. "We place an instrument with a balloon, fill it up with water and heat it to 190 degrees F. And then that sits there on the lining of the uterus for 8 minutes, causing destruction of the lining," said Dr. LaFavor.
The last option is hysterectomy, the only option that can guarantee the problem will stop. However, that surgical option has a long recovery time. Keep in mind, all of these treatment options mean you will no longer be able to have children. To figure out which option is best for you, talk to your doctor.
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