Change the Cycle – Starting the Conversation About… Heavy Periods
By Anne-Marie Kovacs, Chief Wife
Yep. I'm going to be telling you all about my heavy periods. Sexy subject matter, I know. I never-ever thought I'd ever write about this publicly but then, I ran into the lovely and passionate Change The Cycle reps who had a booth at the BlogHer13 exhibits.
It just so happens that Change The Cycle is the media arm for the NovaSure®*, a procedure that I had done about six years ago. I have since been extolling the benefits of the procedure. I was already an advocate, before Change The Cycle contacted me to write this piece (and here's the disclosure: I was paid to write this post and all opinions and stories are completely my own. I'm very happy to be participating and sharing the word about this quality-of-life-enhancing procedure (which it was in my case)).
My heavy periods started about 7 years ago when I was 43. I actually remember the very moment when I began noticing the over-abundance of bleeding. My husband had just started a new company and acquired office space. We were running around to get all the furnishings and accoutrements to set up the business. I remember spending hours assembling office furniture and working feverishly to get everything organized for the dozen or so employees that were about to show up. But, mostly, I remember running to the bathroom down the hall every 20 minutes because that's how long it took for my tampon and “heavy day” pad to both soak through. It was crazy and I was wiped out.
The every-20-minutes two-day event did not repeat after that. I'm attributing that one to stress and being overworked. But right after that, my heavy days necessitated a bathroom visit every hour at minimum. My periods were heavy. Very heavy. And I was drained. I went on for a few months in this manner, wondering why I was so darn tired all the time. Actually, I should say “exhausted”, as in hardly able to get through the day. A doctor's visit and some testing revealed that I was anemic, a condition most likely caused by the heavy bleeding. But there was no amount of iron supplements that could fix my fatigue.
I started wondering: is this the point when women consider having a hysterectomy? I knew I wasn't ready to lose body parts and much less to be thrown into menopause if I didn't have to. I was lucky to find out, through my fabulous gynecologist at the time, that there was an easy treatment. He recommended NovaSure, a new type of “easy” endometrial ablation procedure. He explained clearly that this was to be considered ONLY if I was done having children. I was 44 at this point and my husband and I both knew that our youngest (my daughter, then 11) was the last child we would have.
NovaSure was still a very new process, one that I had not yet heard about and I had a few questions and hesitancies: First, weren't endometrial ablations horribly painful and take several weeks to recover from? That is the case with the “conventional” procedure. With NovaSure, the entire procedure takes under 5 minutes with a day or so of recovery to get back on your feet. Wow, that was certainly not the horror my friend had experienced with her endometrial ablation just three years prior. Second, what would happen to my hormones? I wasn't ready to enter menopause! Nothing happens on the hormonal level as the procedure simply removes the lining of the uterus, the part that causes the bleeding. In fact, I still feel my cycle come and go. It just so happens that I'm no longer bleeding through it.
I went for it and had the procedure done. I was indeed back on my feet within 36 hours. With my next cycle I found out that I would not longer be subject to heavy bleeding (now just occasional spotting in my case) and the depletion it caused me. Immense gratitude ensued.
Well, that's my story. And, since my experience with NovaSure, whenever the subject of heavy periods has come up with women my age, I have been telling them all about it and the difference it made in my quality of life. Actually, 1 on 5 women suffer from heavy periods and somehow we believe that we just have to “deal” with it? Heavy periods can have such negative impact on our every day. Women afflicted with heavy bleeding often suffer from feeling tired, nauseous, have cramps and headaches and then often have to miss out on events and even work because of it. If you don't conveniently happen to have around a friend like me to tell you all about how I sought relief, there are other ways!
Indeed, Change the Cycle is a website that provides a place where women can talk to other (real) women about heavy periods. Women like Sandy, Jennifer, Sandy and Vicki share their stories and receive emails from other women (you?) to talk about their experience and how they sought a solution. This is a place to seek answers and discuss the options for treatment.
If you suffer from heavy periods and all the problems they cause, it's worth your time to investigate. You can also follow ChangeTheCycle on Facebook and Twitter to ask questions, participate in the conversation and get updates.
* NovaSure is for premenopausal women with heavy periods due to benign causes and who are finished childbearing. It's a simple, safe procedure that removes uterine lining while preserving the uterus to reduce or eliminate bleeding.