Recently, I have been hearing so many women talk about a procedure that is ‘changing their lives.' This procedure is apparently becoming very common but, honestly, it seems so very odd to me. Every time I hear about one more person having it done, I feel more compelled to share my thoughts about it.
I think this procedure is just one more glaring example of our medical system's insistence on treating symptoms without treating the cause…one more BANDAID.
Before we continue, I must warn you!!! This post will be about PERIODS: clotting, heavy flow, tampons, etc. If that bothers you or is TMI, feel free to read some of the other great articles on Oh Lardy, like this comprehensive article on the benefits of bone broth, My September Stitch Fix Review or our natural cough remedy!!! 🙂
Now that you have been warned, let's forge ahead!!
What is the procedure I am talking about? The procedure is called Endometrial Ablation and it is generally performed to lessen or stop a heavy period.
According to The Mayo Clinic, during endometrial ablation, the endometrial lining of the uterus is destroyed with the goal of reducing the flow of the period and in some women, stops the period completely.
Endometrial ablation treats excessive menstrual blood loss, which may be indicated by:
- Unusually heavy periods most months.
- Enough blood loss to soak through a pad or tampon every hour on the heaviest days.
- Anemia from excessive blood loss –The Mayo Clinic
The opposing walls of the myometrium collapse onto each other, and the damaged tissue contracts and develops into a scar. Any endometrium remaining after the ablation is trapped beneath the scar, preventing further bleeding. –Medscape
There are a variety of ways to perform this procedure (extreme cold, free flowing hot liquid, microwave, etc) but the gist is that the uterine lining is destroyed, scarred forever. It usually succeeds in lessening the flow of your period or stopping it completely.
Um…What?! A Permanently Scarred Uterus?
I first heard about this months ago at a dinner party. I overheard a woman talking about a friend of a friend who had this procedure done. Normally, when I am part of conversations about health and wellness that I don't fully agree with (which, honestly, is more often than not), I either zone out, smile and nod or walk away and find another conversation to be a part of. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and what they think is best for themselves and their families. Getting into debates isn't generally appropriate in most circumstances.
However, when this person mentioned ablation, it was the first I had ever heard about it. I basically spit out my wine and said ‘That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.'...OUT LOUD. It was one of those moments where you think you said something in your mind but, nope, you didn't and you can almost see the words in a talk bubble floating in the air. Oops! 🙂
I let it go at that thinking maybe this person had some sort of extreme circumstance, some rare experience that required ablation to be performed. None of my business.
Over the past few months, I keep hearing about more and more women who are having this procedure done (or considering it) to try to lessen or stop their periods. Most seem to be in their late 30s early 40s, but some have been in their early to mid 30s. One woman told me her doctor pushes it on every woman who is done having children as a way to get rid of the ‘inconvenient period', and the inconveniently heavy period that seems to come along in one's late 30s. I thought she was joking….Sadly, she wasn't.
Normal or Bizarre?
Does this not sound bizarre to anyone else? Destroying the lining of your uterus to stop your period?
From what I have read, and from what my doctor tells me, as you age, your hormones change and your period does too.
Hey, I have been there! Over the past few years, I have most definitely experienced changes that were inconvenient and, frankly, just plain gross.
In my later 30s, my period got crazy heavy, full of clots. It was gross and sometimes had the potential to be embarrassing. Would I have liked it to stop? Of course. Who wants to go through tampons every 45 minutes or have an accident on your pants? No one.
At my annual gynecological exams, my doctor always asks me about my period, the nature of the flow, the changes. He has never once mentioned ablation as an option. In fact, I recently mentioned to him about this procedure becoming common and let me just say he had nothing positive to say about that.
For me, he suggested I read a book on premenopause and encouraged healthy diet and natural progesterone cream, if needed. For me, using the natural progesterone changed my life. It balanced everything out! And, while I still get my period (as I should because that is NORMAL!), it isn't the crazy heavy, clotty nightmare of the past couple of years. He is continuing to help me fine tune the CAUSE of the changes in my period, not treating the symptom with a giant bandaid.
Now for full disclosure, I am not a doctor. I am certainly not commanding people to get or not get ablation nor am I prescribing an alternative. I am just sharing my thoughts on the matter and giving some testimonies and articles that have been helpful to me and other friends in the wellness field.
I am very uncomfortable with the massive pushing of this permanent procedure on women and strongly believe there will be repercussions from this in the long term.
Endometrial ablation is deemed safe and effective by the FDA. But let's be honest…a label of ‘safe' by the FDA really isn't a gold standard guarantee. EVERY drug that has been taken off the market and/or labeled as dangerous was at one point deemed ‘safe' by the FDA (Vioxx, DES, Accutane, Darvocet, Meridia, to name a few, see below for resources).
Are there complications from endometrial ablation? I am honestly not sure. But a cursory look at PubMed showed some interesting studies: Long term complications, effects of undiagnosed deep adenomyosis, risk factors of pain and possible hysterectomy, and difficulties in performing a biopsy (i.e. hard to diagnose endometrial cancer, the most common uterine cancer).
Why Treat the Symptom NOT the Cause?
This prodcure seems to me to be one more example of our medical system treating a symptom and not getting to the root of the issue…the actual cause of the heavy periods. From what I understand, periods get heavy and clotty for a variety of reasons, usually hormonal in nature. If the uterine lining is destroyed, the periods are gone (or lightened) but did the reason for the heavy periods get addressed? Of course not.
I think there have to be repercussions down the road from this procedure. The body is always striving toward balance and this procedure doesn't seem to be helping in that matter. I know it is deemed ‘safe' now but I am really curious to see what happens in 20 years.
This procedure seems incredibly short sighted. Not getting at the root of the changes that occur during premenopause, or that may be going on at other times in a woman's life for a variety of reasons.
Two Books That Changed My Premenopausal Life
I have read two books that have completely opened my eyes to what goes on during premenopause and how to help your body change naturally…no uterus burning required. The first is the one recommended by my doctor that I mentioned above. Both of these books have changed my life!
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Your Life from Thirty to Fifty
by Dr. John R. Lee
“Are you a woman between 35 and 50 experiencing PMS, migraine headaches, sudden weight gain, fatigue, irritability, tender or lumpy breasts, memory loss, fibroids, or cold hands and feet? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of premenopause. Even if you're a decade or more away from menopause, your hormones may already be out of balance, usually caused by an excess of estrogen and a deficiency of progesterone, say the authors of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause.
John Lee, M.D., is a well-known advocate of the benefits of natural progesterone and the author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. The authors recommend natural progesterone cream to balance your hormones, eliminate premenopausal symptoms, and make you feel better. They also discuss the dangers of xenohormones–substances not found in nature that have hormonal effects–frequently found in pesticides, solvents, plastics, and hormone-treated meat.
The book presents common symptoms of premenopause with suggested natural treatments (progesterone cream, diet, vitamins, and herbs) and substances to avoid, plus additional chapters on diet and exercise. Many case studies help to bring the information into perspective. If you are premenopausal (or close to someone who is), this is a valuable resource.” (learn more here)
The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep and Sex Drive
by Dr. Sara Gottfried
ALL TOO OFTEN WOMEN ARE TOLD that feeling moody, asexual, tapped out, dried up, stressed out, and sleep deprived is just a part of being female. Or they’re led to believe that the answer can be found only at the bottom of a bottle of prescription pills. Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-educated physician and nationally recognized, board-certified gynecologist, refuses to accept that being a woman means feeling overwhelmed or that popping pills is the new normal.
In The Hormone Cure, she shares the unique hormone-balancing program that she has used to help thousands of women reclaim wellness, verve, and optimal health. The Hormone Cure is a groundbreaking book that demonstrates how balancing your hormones can cure underlying health issues and result in restored sleep, greater energy, improved mood, easy weight loss, increased productivity, and many more benefits. Dr. Sara Gottfried’s The Hormone Cure will transform your life. (learn more here)
It makes me sad to hear about so many women going through hormonal changes and being told that it is okay and totally normal to permanently scar the lining of the uterus to lessen/stop a heavy period. I am very curious to see where the overuse of this procedure will land us in 10-20 years (and my suspicion is it will not end well).
What are your thoughts? Would you undergo endometrial ablation? Have you already undergone the procedure? If so, are you happy and comfortable with the results? Would love to hear more…both pro and con about the procedure!!
Make Your Period More Pleasant by Mary Vance, NC
Hormone Balancing: Is It Possible to Achieve Normally? by Homemade Mommy
Top Tips for Hormone Balance by Mary Vance, NC
4 Tips to Balance Your Hormones Right Now by Mary Vance, NC
1o Steps to Kissing PMS and Hormonal Imbalance Goodbye For Good by Butter Nutrition
10 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally by Don't Mess With Mama
Why I Stopped Using Tampons and Pads by Food Renegade
Saving the Menopausal Woman with Homeopathy by Homeopathy Works