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Relief for Heavy Periods — Without a Hysterectomy

By Heather Maloney
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff

Sharon Constantin, 47, was one of the estimated one in five women who suffer from unusually heavy menstrual periods.

A high-risk obstetrical nurse, Sharon had normal periods as a teenager and into her 20s, but after her second child was born, they got noticeably heavier, to the point where they interfered with her lifestyle.

"During one 12-hour night shift at the hospital, I went through 24 super tampons and three OB pads," Sharon says. "That was the deciding factor for me. I decided at that point that I needed to do something."

Sharon was referred to Dr. Linda Yang, a physician in the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. She evaluated Sharon and recommended that she undergo endometrial ablation.

Endometrial ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys a thin layer of the lining of the uterus, which stops or greatly reduces a woman's menstrual flow.

There are several methods of endometrial ablation; Dr. Yang uses two techniques:

  • Balloon ablation: The surgeon uses a hysteroscope to place a balloon in the uterus. Heated fluid is put into the balloon, and the heat destroys the uterine lining.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (also called NovaSure®): With this technique, a probe inserted into the uterus sends radiofrequency energy into the uterine lining, which destroys it.

Both procedures are done in the operating room on an outpatient basis.

"Many women aren't even aware that ablation is an option; they think they need a hysterectomy," Dr. Yang says. "This is a good, minimally invasive option that doesn't involve hormones that can really improve their lifestyle."

Sharon, who had the NovaSure procedure in February, wholeheartedly agrees.

"It got to the point where I couldn't leave the house for two days every month," she says. "It was debilitating.

"Now, I have minimal spotting for about two days a month," she says. "This procedure was life-altering. I wish I had done it 10 years earlier."

Dr. Yang points out that endometrial ablation is not for women who want to have children, since the procedure permanently destroys the uterine lining, rendering them infertile. And any woman with heavy or irregular bleeding should be evaluated with a biopsy first to rule out cancer or other problems.

So far, Dr. Yang's patients have been very pleased with the results; patient satisfaction rates are typically more than 90 percent.

And Sharon, for one, couldn't be happier. She has already referred three friends for the procedure.

"Not having to decide if I can go out today has been life-changing," she says.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted September 2011

Contact Information

Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
East Campus, Shapiro 8
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215