Why I Decided to Have the NovaSure Endometrial Ablation Procedure

[If you don’t like talk about female cycles, consider this a warning.]

 

I can still see those pants.

They were a deep, bright pink, capri length even on my short tween legs, and adorned with big white polka dots. I remember them so well because they are forever scarred into my memory. I tied the dusty rose spring jacket around my waist and hung my head low as I got off the bus that day; the teasing on the way home had been merciless. Once again, I had bled through two pads. I was eleven years old.

I was one of those “lucky” girls who started her period early. Still in the fifth grade, elementary school, I wasn’t prepared for everything that was about to begin for me. All of the books made for teens in the late 80’s and early 90’s made getting your period sound like a great thing. Not one of them talked about heavy periods, claiming that young girls would most likely have light, irregular periods until things evened out. I had the irregular part down, and would get to keep that forever, but they were anything but light.

Doctors told me over the years that my periods would change. They were supposed to calm down as puberty calmed down. They didn’t. Pregnancy and child birth were supposed to make things even better. If possible, my periods got more irregular and even heavier. Oh, and more painful to boot. Lucky me!

In January of this year, I finally went to my doctor — anemic, tired, in pain, and searching for some kind of help. My gynecologist told me my only options was to go on hormonal birth control. Indefinitely. Even though my mother, grandmother and aunt have all had breast cancer. No thanks.

And so I resigned myself to years of pain and agony and waking up to gushes of blood and a general hatred of my cycle.

Then I went to BlogHer ’12.

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One of the sponsors in the Expo Hall just so happened to be NovaSure, a thermal endometrial ablation. I talked briefly with a nice lady, took a brochure, and thought nothing more of it. I mean, yes, I have heavy periods, but I had been told that nothing could help me, that I was doomed. Once home from the conference, I put the brochure in the bathroom reading basket and ignored it for awhile.

Sooo... #novasure

One day I read it.

I mentioned it to my husband the next day. He had not only read it in the bathroom, but had looked up the website and found three doctors in our general driving area. I researched some more — the process, the reviews from women who had gone this route, and the doctors in question. I finally decided on a doctor and made a call to schedule the consultation. Oh, and I actually went!

My doctor is quite awesome. He asked a bunch of questions about my cycle and my life — one important question relating to whether or not I’m done having children. (We are.) You can get pregnant after a NovaSure procedure, but it’s rare and if it happens, it is not all that safe for the mother and the fetus. We talked risks, we talked benefits. He told me his wife’s story, how his office’s statistics compared to the company’s reports. I asked if he knew whether it was cheaper to have the procedure done in office or to do it in the hospital. He let me know that my insurance covers it the same in both places, but there are more copays with the hospital version of the procedure. (Checking with my insurance later that day, he was right.) He said that if I could withstand the biopsy in the office, I could probably handle the discomfort of the 90-second procedure. If the biopsy felt too painful, we could then schedule the hospital procedure.

All of that takes place tomorrow.

I’m in some weird kind of panic as my bedtime nears. I’ve been writing this post all day and my anxiety has only been building. I don’t imagine, given my bad luck, that I’ll be one of the four women out of ten that stops having periods all together. If I can go to the beach on vacation with my family and not sit with my legs crossed the entire time, I’ll be happy. If I don’t double over in pain every 21 to 48 days (oh, hi, irregular!), I’ll be joyous! If my PMS symptoms are a little less severe, I’m pretty sure my husband will throw a party in honor of HOLOGIC. The boys too. Possibly my mom.

I chose to tell you about this because I know that I thought I was stuck with heavy, irregular periods for life. My own gynecologist gave me no hope. So maybe you’re Googling and trying to figure out what to do, how to talk to your own doctor — or if talking to your own doctor is worth it. If your doctor is a NovaSure provider, then yes, by all means, go talk. If not, find one who is. I am talking about it here because I’m going to share what my experience is like now (the before/decision making process), the day of, one week out, two weeks out, one month out, three months out and six months after the endometrial ablation procedure. I’m doing this because in my Googling, no bloggers seem to have followed through with how the procedure worked for them, what it feels like, what changed, what didn’t, and what they would recommend for others.

Right now, I have hope. I have to have hope because being told that there’s no other option for you feels kind of awful. Maybe it will be the best health decision I’ve ever made, like some others have claimed. Maybe it will be kind of “meh.” Maybe it won’t work at all, and I’ll be one of those horror stories that scares you when you Google it. I don’t know yet, but I will share it with you.

 

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17 Replies to “Why I Decided to Have the NovaSure Endometrial Ablation Procedure”

  1. Thinking positive period go away thoughts for you. I dont know if it’s the same procedure they offered my mom or not, but it’s good to know it’s out there. After her woes led to a blood transfusion she opted just to go with a hysterectomy and not try it but since great gram, gram and mom have all had similar issues and hysterectomies at 40,30, and 50 respectively I’m glad to know there might be another option if (when) it’s my turn.

    1. My doc did say that if I’m in the 1% (or less) who the procedure does not work for, my only other option is a hysterectomy. I — obviously — would like to avoid that at 31, so here’s hoping!

  2. I’ll be thinking of you today! I’ve never heard of this option, but it sounds great. I too have suffered heavy periods all my life, starting in grade 8. 2 pads, towels on the bed, never swimming…. it sucked.

    I played roulette as a 30+ adult and went the road of hormones (bless them, I love them) even though I don’t have my family history (stupid closed adoptions). So far so good.

    I really hope this solves all your issues and you can enjoy life to the fullest every day!

  3. Good Luck Jenna! I wish you the best! And look forward to find out how everything goes after the results. I am cursed with heavy periods and would like to know if this option does work.

  4. Sending lots of calming good-luck thoughts your way! I’m so glad you’re going to share your experiences with us – my doctor and I have already talked about this option for me when I’m really, really sure that I’m done with even the possibility of more children. So I’ll be interested to see how things work and what sorts of questions I’ll need to ask. Thanks for talking about something so personal – it will help a lot of us, I’m sure!

  5. My friend had that procedure done, not sure if it was that specific one but it sounds like it. It worked for her. She still feels twinges when she ovulates but no more periods. I think Mom to the Screaming Masses had it done too but she still has a period, just less heavy? I can’t remember but you can check with her.

    I do know my friend said to be sure to rest like the doctor tells you afterwards! She didn’t the first day and paid for it about 2 days after that.

  6. Wow! I can totally relate to this. I, too got my period when I was 11, and also had very heavy periods, battled anemia, etc. Luckily things did change for me with pregnancy – especially after the second. Sorry your procedure was delayed but October 4th will be here before you know it! Will they still do the procedure if you have your period?

  7. I had this procedure done in June 2009 following eight weeks of hemorrhaging that I believe was brought on by a major stress event in my life, in April of that year, the death of my aunt who was more like a sister to me. The alternatives, like you said, were hormones or in my case at age 44, a hysterectomy. The ablation was a success by all accounts. For maybe a year I had periodic light menses but for the past 12 months or so I have not menstruated and tests show I am NOT yet menopausal. Not all who have the procedure cease menstruation completely. I’d like to share something else with you so I’ll send you a note.

  8. i had the novasure procedure done early feb. 2010 (yes, roughly the same time of the blizzard) at the suggestion of my spectacular gynecologist. (i have a genetic blood mutation that makes my blood want to clot in my veins so getting pregnant is frowned upon seeing as how i could die or the baby could most likely have severe birth defects due to the blood thinners that would be necessary and i can’t take the pill, or any hormone therapy for any reason.) just to ensure that i wouldn’t accidentally get pregnant we decided to do the adiana permanent birth control procedure at the same time (a teeny tiny soft insert is placed in each tube and then hit with radio waves to stimulate scar tissue growth, thereby blocking the tubes so eggs can’t get down to be fertilized) so i needed to spend a good portion of the day at the hospital.

    best not necessary medical decision i have made. LOVE that i did both.

    they had to knock me out because of the adiana procedure so i didn’t feel a thing. operating room recovery for me was pretty quick and i left the hospital the same day. all evening i felt like i had really, really bad period cramps, but nothing worse. in fact, my 50 pound beagle / lab must have sensed what was going on because he laid on top of my belly like a live hot water bottle so all i needed was 800 mg of ibuprofen in addition to reilly’s devotion. docs did the procedures on a thursday so i could take friday off and have the weekend to recover, but honestly, i could have worked friday. was nice to lay around, but it wasn’t a must in my case.

    for the first year my periods became nonexistent. this second year i have the slightest of slight bleeding for less than a day…and i really should not call it bleeding as it is simply light pink for not even a day. for the first year my pms symptoms were more noticeable: breasts would still get sore, mood would still vary greatly, chocolate cravings were still powerful. these days my breasts don’t alert me to the upcoming one day of possibly attracting sharks, i cry for no reason at all a few days beforehand, and the cravings don’t really ever have anything to do with pms. less than two years in and i am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. the novasure procedure continues to make me happy. i wish you the same or better. i honestly don’t think there is any way you could possibly regret it if you are certain that you don’t wish to carry babies again.

    if i had realized that folks wanted to know about novasure i certainly would have written about it on my blog. still might!

    good luck, my friend!

  9. I’m 2 years post-op this November (also NovaSure recommended by my doc) the biopsy was worse, you will be fine. Sending lots of good karma your way, my friend.

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