NovaSure is a relatively new surgical procedure for women who suffer from heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia.
Treatment for Menorrhagia
Menorrhagia is defined as having extremely heavy periods that last longer than seven days. For many women, this includes needing to change tampons or pads every hour. Clotting is also common, as is cramping and fatigue. If you suffer from menorrhagia, you may find some solace in the fact that 1 in 5 women have some form of heavy periods. Although the condition interferes with daily life, you are not alone in your discomfort.
There are several known causes of menorrhagia, including fibroids, use of an IUD, and hormonal imbalances. There are also some medications that can cause heavy bleeding, so if you experience heavier periods suddenly after starting a new medicine, you may be able to alleviate the symptoms by finding a different medication.
In some cases, there is no known cause for the heavy periods.
Menorrhagia is often treated by controlling the menstrual cycle with either the birth control pill or progesterone pills. For some women, the heavy bleeding and cramping is so severe and disruptive to their daily lives that they opt for a hysterectomy or endometrial resection, which is a surgical procedure that removes that the lining of the uterus with a wire loop. More recently, NovaSure has also been offered as an effective treatment option.
The NovaSure Endometrial Ablation Procedure
The goal of an endometrial ablation is to destroy the uterine lining. This is usually performed with lasers, heat, or freezing. After the uterus heals and scars, the patient usually experiences less bleeding.
NovaSure is a minimally invasive procedure that many women turn to in place of a hysterectomy. During a procedure, electromagnetic energy is introduced to the uterus with a small wand, similar to what is used during an ultrasound. The energy breaks up the lining, causing it to shed. By reducing the amount of uterine lining, there is less bleeding and cramping each month.
Treatment is usually over in less than two minutes and women can return to their regular activities in a few days. Since the procedure is performed through the vaginal opening, there is no incision and no stitches.
As with most surgical procedures, many women will experience some pain, cramping, and bleeding in the first day or two after treatment. Some patients may also have nausea and headaches as a result of the anesthesia.
Not all surgeons perform NovaSure, but interested patients can visit the NovaSure website and search for physicians in their area.
After healing, most women experience lighter periods, less cramping, and a decrease in PMS-related symptoms. More than 90 percent of women who have had the procedure are satisfied with the results. For women who have suffered for year from heavy cramping and bleeding, the NovaSure procedure is a welcome relief to their symptoms.
No surgical procedure is without risks. With NovaSure, a patient could develop an infection or suffer injury to nearby tissue. Tubal sterilization could also occur, so the procedure should only be performed on women who have decided against any future pregnancies.
Although NovaSure is not a birth control or a method of sterilization, many women will not be able to conceive following the procedure. Women and their doctors should carefully consider the future childbearing goals of the patient before deciding on any endometrial ablation.
However, NovaSure affects the uterus, not the ovaries. Women will still ovulate and could conceive. Since the uterine lining has been removed, it could be difficult, and dangerous, for a pregnancy to develop normally. Women should discuss birth control options with the surgeon and use some form of birth control until they have reached menopause.
Weighing Your Options
Choosing to have surgery, even a minimally invasive surgical procedure like NovaSure, is never an easy decision to make. You and your doctor will need to consider the pros and cons carefully. You may want to try other treatment options first, like taking the birth control pill or using an IUD that releases hormones directly into the uterus. But, for women who have tried other options without relief or for whom daily life is getting difficult to manage due to heavy periods, the procedure is a welcome addition to the available treatments for menorrhagia.