YOUR HEALTH: Helping women who face heavy menstruation cycles

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PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – 49-year old Ann Rich is a graphic designer for a large law firm.

For almost a decade, she started feeling sick every month.    It started right after she had twins at age 38.

"Once I stopped nursing and got my period back again, it was sort of overwhelming."

A third of all women seek treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding at some point in their lives.

Rich also struggled with bad migraines that came along with her period.   For years she just dealt with it.

"I'm sort of like an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' kind of girl. Surgery kind of scares me."

Dr. Stephanie Brown says for many women in the years after childbirth and before menopause, periods can bring heavy bleeding and discomfort.

For some women, birth control pills can regulate hormones and provide relief, but for others a new ablation technique may be a solution.

Dr. Brown uses a device called Minerva.

"It's a great option for when you don't want to be as aggressive as a hysterectomy," said Dr. Brown, an Ob/Gyn with Advanced Women's Care in Pittsburgh.  "It kind of meets in the middle."

Minerva is used during an outpatient procedure that takes about two minutes.

"A thermal conductive apparatus that is placed in the uterus that gently removes endometrial lining and glands that produce heavy bleeding every cycle," said Dr. Brown.

After the procedure, Dr. Brown says women see an immediate improvement, little or no bleeding for up to three years.

MINERVA ABLATION:  Dr. Stephanie Brown said risk factors are minimal and complication rates are very low.   The risks are mainly if you puncture the uterus or the cavity is not secure.   And Minerva tells you that before you can even start the procedure.

Dr. Brown says someone would not be a good candidate if they have a significantly irregular shaped uterus.

Minerva isn't yet offered in the Quad Cities.  Go here for the nearest location.

But it worked for Ann Rich.

Her periods went away.

Her migraines did, too.

"I can handle it and take care of the kids."

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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