First—it’s important to start out by stating that not all women with heavy periods need to be “treated”. As someone who has specialized in treating women with painful or heavy periods in Rochester for the past few decades, I’m often amazed at how far some women will “let it go” before seeking treatment.
Perhaps the best way illustrate this is by telling you about a case that happened only a few months ago. The woman was 49 years old and had an enlarged fibroid uterus. She had been referred by her family physician to another physician for a hysterectomy—a very reasonable suggestion under the circumstances. The problem, however, was two-fold. First, the woman was having episodes of hemorrhage—not all the time. But these “episodes” were enough that she was becoming very, very anemic. She was approaching the point of needing to be transfused! Second, the appointment she was given by the consulting gynecologist was in 3 weeks—which meant that an actual surgical date might be 8-10 weeks away.
The family physician called me to see if I could offer this woman something “just to get her through the next month or two” until she underwent a hysterectomy.
I called this very nice woman and scheduled her that very same day. When the woman arrived here she was medically unstable. Her blood count—normally 32-45%–was 22%! Her resting pulse—normally 60-90 was 105 beats per minute and she was experiencing painful “contractions.” Forget about performing a pelvic exam and ultrasound! The first thing we did was transfer her to the hospital where she could get some blood.
Several units of blood and 24 hours later she was looking much better and I was finally able to examine her and assess her situation! Because of her anxiety she agreed to some mild intravenous sedation so that I could perform an adequate exam. Within 15 minutes I realized that she was “giving birth” (prolapsing) a uterine fibroid. This fibroid was nearly the size of my closed fist! Removing it was simple—and was done right then and there.
I’m guessing by the appearance of this fibroid that it was at least 5 years old—which coincided with how long her periods had been worsening. Two days later she was back at work and since then has been having only light periods. Her hysterectomy—for now—has been cancelled. At age 49 it’s doubtful she’ll ever need one though she will have fibroids that will get progressively smaller after her menopause. Many women live with fibroids as long as they don’t become problems.
This is an example of a situation that became much worse than it needed to be. Fortunately, she got a blood transfusion in time. With a blood count of 22% she was in a potentially life-threatening situation. She was also lucky enough to have the kind of fibroid that was easily managed with something far less invasive than a hysterectomy. And for now she’s doing great.
The lesson here is simple. Don’t put with heavy painful periods until you’ve had at least some minimal testing—preferably by a gynecologist. I understand why we avoid healthcare providers. At the same time, however, we need to know when to ask for help. This is neither an isolated care nor the most recent one.
If you’d like more information or are experiencing symptoms similar to these, please contact us or call by phone. You don’t need to suffer any longer. We’re here to help and provide options.