Categories
Health

NovaSure, Almost One Year Later — or, I Love My Uterus Again

[Warning: This post discusses cycles! Periods! Cramps! And features photos of my uterus! Kind of!]

Curious About NovaSure?

I underwent the NovaSure procedure, otherwise known as endometrial ablation, almost one year ago after learning about it at BlogHer ’12. I promised to update how it changed my cycle afterward… and then I didn’t. I suppose it’s true what they say: People are more apt to share an experience when it’s negative than when it’s positive. Because let me tell you: NovaSure has been an overwhelmingly positive experience in my life.

In fact, I tell everyone this when they email to ask me my opinion on the procedure: NovaSure is the best health decision I’ve made for myself. Ever.

As I shared before, the procedure itself went just fine. Here’s my breakdown of what happened — or didn’t — in the months after my endometrial ablation.

1. Yes to the watery discharge. My doctor warned me that I could experience up to six weeks of watery discharge after the procedure. He didn’t lie. This ranks as the “worst” part of the procedure — which is to say, not very horrible at all. The end of the discharge ran right into my first post-procedure period. Which wasn’t even a period.

2. My first post-procedure periods were weird. I use the word “weird” to mean both “different” and, yes, “weird.” It’s weird to all of a sudden have vastly different periods than those you have suffered through for 20 years. Really weird. The kicker? There was no crazy, omg-someone-must-be-dying bleeding. I had minimal (understatement) spotting. The end. No, really.

3. My first post-procedure periods lacked almost all period symptoms. Check this: No bloating. No breast tenderness. No cramps! No mood swings! It was the Best Thing Ever!

4. One period-related symptom that may or not have been caused by the hormonal change: Breakout city. My skin (mostly my chin) broke out with the onset of my second post-procedure cycle… and didn’t stop for months and months. I don’t know if this was directly related to how my body was adjusting to having no outlet for monthly woe or if it was just sad, pimply timing. All the same, I’ve got my skin back under control at 10 months post-NovaSure. Whew!

5. Weight loss! I mentioned NovaSure in my weight loss post, and I maintain that the two were directly related. With the lack of monthly bloating, I found myself able to maintain any weight lost during the month and continue forward with my weight loss journey. I know one big search for NovaSure is “weight gain,” and that simply wasn’t my experience. Then again, I was making smart food decisions and running my butt off, so it’s not like I sat on the couch for 10 months and expected a miracle by way of a medical procedure.

6. 10 months later, my period lasts 2 days. I had a couple of cycles after the first few that made me wonder if my endometrial ablation was somehow undoing itself. I had a couple of clots, a couple of gushes, and a couple of periods that lasted longer than four days. (Please note: I had multiple periods that lasted over 14 days in the past, so fretting over a period longer than 4 days felt ridiculous.) Those periods have not happened again. Here’s an example of what my cycle is like now: I was set to get my period the Monday of BlogHer ’13 week. Instead, it started on Saturday afternoon. I stopped to buy my first box of Instead cups in over four months (because I hadn’t used enough in one box to warrant another purchase!), bought extra pantyliners, and packed all of the stuff for a Traveling Period. It was over before Monday. No lie. Over, completely gone, out the door, TTFN. Less than two days. Winning.

7. The only symptom I have now is breast tenderness. A day or two before my non-period, as I refer to it now, arrives, I have a bit of breast tenderness. I don’t even really notice it until I take my bra off at the end of the day and think, “Hmm, that feels weird.” Then I look at my calendar, nod, and go to bed.

8. Yay sex life! That’s all I need to say about that, isn’t it?

Those are the things most asked by people who have emailed me over the past 10 months. Mainly people want to know if I had any horror stories (no), if my cycle is much better (omg, yes!), and if I would recommend the procedure (goodness yes!). In fact, I recommend the procedure to every woman I come in contact with who mentions the word period — though I do remind people that you can’t have it prior to being done having your children, so it’s not a valid option for some women. Yet.

I was thrilled to find out that the Change Your Cycle booth was at BlogHer ’13 this year. I walked up to them and began word-vomiting about how they changed my life. It’s true. Granted, I made a lot of other changes in my life over the past year, but this helped in many aspects — with the allowing me to lose weight, to lose those wicked mood swings, to not be doubled over in pain for a week. The crew at the NovaSure loved my story so much that they put me on video. I’m sure I sounded like they were paying me or that they had sponsored my procedure, but nope! My insurance totally covered NovaSure, minus my first $20 copay. $20 for a life-changing decision that improved my quality of life — AND A PLUSH UTERUS TO HUG AND TAKE ON ADVENTURES?

I Love My Uterus Again

Okay!

If you have questions about NovaSure, please don’t hesitate to ask! I also encourage you to follow @HeavyPeriods on Twitter. Check out both the Change the Cycle website and NovaSure’s informational website.

 

Categories
Health

NovaSure, Day One — How the Endometrial Ablation Felt

Today was the big day! My NovaSure procedure took place this morning. I’m obviously alive and kind of kicking, so it couldn’t have been that bad. I am forcing myself to write about my experience before I head off to bed so I don’t forget little bits and pieces. Don’t continue reading if you don’t want specific information about this gynecological procedure.

— __ — __ —

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived at the office for Laminaria insertion to dilate my cervix. What’s Laminaria? Seaweed. Yeah, I thought my doctor was lying too when he said that at the previous appointment. Turns out it’s incredible when it comes to dilation. When I was induced with BigBrother in 2005, my doctor used Cervadil. New doctor laughed and said, “Anyone who uses Cervadil nowadays is stupid.” Good to know. Seaweed is where it’s at.

Also? It looks like a rolled cigarette with a tampon string.

NovaSure Laminaria

I left the office yesterday a bit crampy and remained that way throughout the night. I was allowed to eat a light breakfast this morning before I arrived at my doctor’s office at 9:00am with my medications (Valium and Vicodin) in my bag.

They set me up in the procedure room almost immediately. I took one Valium and one Vicodin. The nurse then gave me the longest shot of Toradol ever. Really. She said, “This is going to be the longest shot ever; there’s a lot of medicine in here!” I laughed. She wasn’t lying. That shot took forever! Then I sat down with the book I’m reading, my phone and, well, got a bit punch drunk. But it wasn’t really punch drunk, was it? When the doctor finally came in to start the procedure, he laughed at me. Most people just get relaxed and sleepy. I was smiley. Figures.

The procedure was pretty straight forward. The doctor used this kit:

NovaSure Kit

And this machine:

NovaSure Machine

And inserted a wand into my uterus and effectively radio-waved my uterine lining. Of course, that’s the information you can read in the brochure. So, how did it feel?

For those who have experienced labor, it felt like a medium-sized contraction that lasted for 90-seconds. Meaning that when it started, I thought, “Oh, well, this is totally tolerable.” And, by the end I was thinking, “Okay, I’m totally ready for this to be over.” It was uncomfortable and, yes, it hurt but no more than that medium sized contraction. My doctor looked at me, as I tried to find that happy breathing place reserved only for these specific kind of pains and said, “We’re about halfway done, do you want me to stop?” I said, “If you’re halfway done, then no!” More laughter. I figure if I am able to laugh through it, the pain isn’t really that bad.

If you haven’t experienced labor, I would compare it to a severe period cramp for 90 seconds. Which, if you’ve had cycles like mine, you know that severe period cramps can last for much longer than 90 seconds, so it really should be no big deal. Right? I would compare it to the kind of period cramps that make you curl up in the fetal position, the kind that make you want to put counter-pressure to make the pain go away. The best part is, of course, you know that it will end — unlike a period cramp. Win.

As soon as he retracted the wand and removed everything, the severity of the cramping started to alleviate. I was left with what I’d call a dull aching cramp. The doctor gave me instructions — no running for (only!!) two days, take the anaprox for another few days, rest — and my husband some instructions — call if I started to vomit, if anything seemed abnormal. The nurse helped me sit up, made sure everything was as it should be. I got dressed, my husband helped me out of the exam room. I made my two week follow up appointment. He helped me to the car. I slept the whole way home — an hour drive — and until nearly 4:00pm, which is when the initial pain medication wore off.

Ow.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the pain wasn’t as bad as the procedure or a horrible period cramp or even early labor. It just didn’t feel good. I took some medicine and made myself go rest some more. Then I felt better and walked the dog — which was a bad choice. I should have stayed on the couch and I learned that the hard way. I was achy and woozy and a bit dizzy after that dog walk. I’ve remained on the couch the rest of the evening and am now feeling better. I’m trying to be a good patient. I don’t sit still very well.

I have had some light pink discharge, one random clot. At nearly 11:00pm, my cramping is quite dull, though I’m taking my heating pad to bed with me. I am taking tomorrow morning off from work mainly to make up for the Vicodin hangover, but have plans to get back to my normal life with work, a birthday party and a football game. (Though, if I’m tired, I may bow out of the football game.)

I won’t know how the procedure has truly changed my cycle — and my life — for a few months, but I will say this if you are considering the procedure: Don’t let the pain factor deter you. If you choose the cheaper, quicker method of in-office, it’s hardly worse than a pap smear. And if you don’t handle those well, you can choose a hospital procedure and be knocked out. (I hate general anesthesia, so I really preferred this method!)

I’ll update you after my two week follow up appointment as to how things are going! If you’re in South Eastern Ohio and considering the procedure, I must recommend Dr. Stanley in Marietta. Not many doctors in the area perform NovaSure; he does and he’s awesome. The staff also was caring and kind. Love that office!