Heavy menstrual periods

Mamas on Bedrest: I Ditched the Diaper Bag!

September 5th, 2011

Those of you who know me know that I had a rocky road to motherhood. In the years from 2001 to 2006 I had 3 abdominal surgeries, 4 pregnancies 2 miscarriages and, thankfully, 2 healthy children. I was pregnant every year for at least a few weeks-with the exception of 2003.

But as much of a roller coaster ride as it was to have my children, it actually pales compared to my menstrual history. From the time I started getting my periods at age 11, I had unpredictable and later debilitating menstrual periods. As a teenager, they weren’t all that bad because I had my period so infrequently. As a competitive gymnast and cheerleader, I’d sometimes go as long as 6 months without menstruating. In my twenties, once I stopped competing, I had regular monthly periods, but the cramping, nausea and heavy bleeding often incapacitated me for at least a day each month. I tried several different treatments; hormones, herbs, acupuncture, supplements…but in the end, I sucked it up and dealt with the heavy bleeding and cramping, and paid what equated to stock options in the Always Feminine pad and OB Tampon Companies. I rarely knew from one day to the next when I’d get my period, but one thing was for sure-when it came, it usually came with a vengeance, “super soakers” I used to call them and I was always at the ready with a full supply of feminine products in my very large hand bag.

When I finally got around to having children at age 35, I silently uttered, “Bring it on!” The thought of being period free for at least a year, maybe even 2 (I planned on nursing for at least a year) was exhilarating! And not having to carry around a huge purse was one of my greatest anticipations. Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived. With each of my children, despite nursing them exclusively for months, I began menstruating by 3 months post partum. The only good thing was that since I was carrying all of their gear in a diaper bag, I didn’t have to look like a vagabond with my own additional satchel. Soon, as children do, my children grew up. They were each potty trained by age 2 ½. By the time my son was three, he ate well enough and neatly enough that I didn’t need to bring a bib, wipes or extra clothes. The only one who needed the diaper bag was me! Now what’s wrong with that picture???

I was sick of the bags, sick of the uncertainty, sick of my periods dictating my life! I wanted to hang out with my kids, go for bike rides and swims and not have to take “additional baggage”.  You know it’s bad when your 3 yr old son pipes up, “Don’t worry mama, I’ve got your bag!” and nearly falls over from the load. That was it! I was sick of the heavy bleeding, the cramping and generally feeling like a limp dishrag! I was sick of lugging around “luggage”, maxi pads, super tampons, underwear and sometimes even extra pants! I made up my mind-I was ditching the diaper bag!

I scheduled a consultation with my OB/GYN and I told her that I wanted an endometrial ablation. She was hardly surprised that I came in with a specific treatment in mind. As a physician assistant, I usually approached her with my treatment plan, she presented me with hers and we typically met somewhere in the middle. After reviewing my history and all of my options, she agreed that an endometrial ablation was a reasonable treatment for me to try to put an end to my heavy bleeding. So on a lovely Friday morning in July of 2009, I spent exactly 45 minutes in my doctor’s office having the NovaSure procedure. And with one quick flip of a switch and some skillful use of gynecological tools, my bleeding problems became a thing of the past.

I wish I had had the NovaSure endometrial ablation sooner. Having the NovaSure procedure put an end to my heavy bleeding once and for all. I still have nominal periods each month; spotting enough to stain 1 or 2 panty shields. But the rest of it-the heavy bleeding, the cramping, the fatigue, the nausea and/or vomiting-gone! And more than that, I ditched the diaper bag! Some days I go out with only my cell phone and keys. It’s such a liberating feeling!

About this blog carnival: “I Ditched the Diaper Bag” is an effort to spread awareness about heavy periods and to encourage women to not only talk about their health issue but seek treatment. Are you bothered by the amount of bleeding or the pain that you have during your period? Does your period make you feel depressed, tired or moody? Do you change your pad or tampon more often than every one or two hours? Does your period last more than a full week? If so, you may have heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia, a condition that affects 1 out of every 5 women. For more information about symptoms and treatment options visit www.aboutheavyperiods.com.

Please help us raise awareness for this important health issue and encourage women to share their stories. What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about, manage and make provisions for your heavy periods? Would you swim more? Wear white more or simply “Ditch your diaper bag?” Write your post and share your link with us in the comments section below. Thanks.