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Doc Talk | Procedure to prevent period pain

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Periods can be painful, exhausting, and messy. All women have to deal with them, and some have particularly heavy cycles. But one procedure can make menstrual cycles much more manageable.

After Gretchen Ramsey had her second child, her period seemed to take control of her life.

“Being caught off guard in those situations was extremely embarrassing, not to mention exhausting and tiring,” said Gretchen Ramsey, of Halifax.

It became so severe, she said “that December, there was not one day in December where I did not have my period.”

Ramsey decided to take back control. She called her OBGYN.

“We talked about several options, including medication that I would have to be on for an extended period of time, and I just wasn’t comfortable with that option,” said Ramsey.

That’s when Ramsey learned about endometrial ablation.

“It’s a procedure to destroy the lining of the uterus so that a woman that is having a problem with heavy menses can get relief from that without having to have a major surgery like a hysterectomy,” said Geisinger Holy Spirit OBGYN Dr. Anne Marie Manning.

Destroying the uterine lining results in a much lighter period. But some stop getting their period altogether.

“I have not had a period since,” said Ramsey.

Often symptoms including bloating and cramps will remain. In fact, Dr. Manning says this procedure should not be used for managing cramps. It is more helpful in managing flow.

She also typically won’t perform it on women under the age of 40 because the younger the patient, the less effective the procedure. It can also be an issue with pregnancy.

“It is possible to get pregnant after having this done although it is not advisable because those would be very high-risk pregnancies,” said Dr. Manning.

But Ramsey already had children and now uses endometrial ablation as a lesson for her daughter.

“Now I’m able to help my daughter understand a little bit about the procedure, why I went through it and the health benefit it brought not only to me but to our whole family.

Dr. Manning says the procedure has gotten more advanced in recent years. It takes just a few minutes and is done with a small device. Recovery takes a couple of days.

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