Irregular Cycles

Periods: To Bleed or Not to Bleed

Expert’s Name: Stephanie Ackerman

I’m in Trouble
This past week, I was fortunate to attend a famous talk show host show taping in Chicago (I signed a release not to mention who in an article or blog, but I am sure you can figure out who I am talking about). I was very excited about going to see the show. Of course, as luck would have it, my friend Flo decided to visit and this was day two of her visit. For those of you who read my first article on peri-menopausal bleeding, you will remember that day two is tough for me. In the past, I had to stay near a bathroom for risk of bleeding through.

Over the past few years, Flo’s visits have not been as long or intense, but I still worry and have to be carefully prepared. I felt flustered all morning in preparing to go. I brought plenty of supplies with me. As soon as I arrived at the studio, I used the bathroom. We sat in a holding room for an hour and when I sensed movement, I went to the bathroom. I was so afraid that I would be sitting in the studio and would have an emergency. It has moments like these when l question, ‘should I have had endometrial ablation’, the surgery to lessen or rid women of their menstrual cycle.

Endometrial Ablation
Anne Parker had the endometrial ablation two years ago and I asked her about the procedure and the results. Leading up to her surgery, for more than a year after Anne reached age 41, she bled heavily for 4 days of her period. She would bleed through both super tampons and pads and she could not leave her home. She was very frightened, because the bleeding was so heavy, leaving her feeling very tired, and limiting her life functions. When her doctor suggested endometrial ablation, a 20-minute procedure right in his office she was elated.

The procedure did not go as Anne anticipated. She was in a lot of pain. She experienced a lot of cramping, and likened it to labor. She got through it by telling herself it was only for twenty minutes. Anne also received pain medication for after the procedure later than she should have. However, 24 hours later she was feeling better. Now her doctor does this procedure in a hospital setting using anesthesia. Anne feels that if she had the procedure in the hospital, she would have had minimal pain. Two years late Anne is happy with the results and would do it again. Her period is very light that she hardly knows she has her period. It last for 1-2 days. She feels she has her life back. I am thrilled that the procedures results have been so successful for Anne, but I am still not ready for this surgery. My heavy bleeding was never as bad as Anne’s, and now is mostly under control. If I did bleed as severely as Anne did, I am sure I would be more open to the procedure. For those of you considering, endometrial ablation, make sure that you understand the procedure and work with your doctor to ensure you receive the best of care and the least amount of pain and inconvenience.

The Girl Scout in me is Prepared
I got through the show taping by being prepared. I had supplies in my purse and a set in my coat pocket. When I arrived at the studio, I located all bathrooms. I spoke with one of the female members of the security team and explained my situation. She assured me that during the taping, I would have the opportunity during a break to use the bathroom. That made me feel better. Once seated, I made note of the nearest exit and route to get there.
I vowed to relax and enjoy my experience. Deep breathing helped. About 90 minutes in to the taping, I knew I needed to go to the bathroom and I quietly left during the break. I missed nothing and I felt relieved.

I am sure there will be more opportunities over the next few years where I will wish that Flo would not visit, but I stand by my decision to let my body and its natural process persist. In the meantime, I will be prepared and relaxed as I continue to experience what life brings.

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