Although menstruation is often uncomfortable, some people experience extreme cramping and intense periods. They dread the one week per month when they have their period, knowing that it will disrupt their lives and make it difficult to focus on work or school. Doctors may have ignored this frustrating element of women’s health in the past, but there are now options to end the pain. One of the services we’re proud to offer patients at Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates of Hampton is Minerva endometrial ablation. This state-of-the-art procedure can help those who have heavy menstrual bleeding.
If you’ve been looking for a solution for your heavy periods, cervical cramping, and other symptoms, it’s time to learn if Minerva can end your pain. Call OB/GYN Associates of Hampton today to find out if the Minerva endometrial ablation system is right for you.
Minerva is an FDA-approved surgery that removes the endometrium. This is the lining of the uterus that thickens during your menstrual cycle and sheds when you have your period. If you don’t have that uterine lining, your periods may be shorter or lighter. Ablation isn’t the same as sterilization, so you will still need to use birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Unlike a hysterectomy, which is major surgery, the Minerva surgical procedure doesn’t require incisions or general anesthesia. It doesn’t involve scraping like with dilation and curettage (D&C). If you’re worried about the risks such as weight gain caused by hormone therapy, rest assured that Minerva doesn’t use hormones.
Instead, your gynecologist will place the endometrial ablation device into your uterine cavity through your vagina and cervix. Next, your doctor will use the controller to make the device heat up argon gas to create plasma energy that destroys the endometrial tissue. The procedure takes just three to four minutes. Recovery time takes about an hour, and then you can go home.
This procedure has a high success rate. A clinical study of Minerva patient satisfaction found that 98 out of 100 patients were happy one year after endometrial ablation. Ninety-two percent of patients reported a decrease in heavy menstrual bleeding, and another 66% of patients experienced no bleeding at all. Patients also reported improvements in cramping and PMS symptoms after this procedure.
In a second study, gynecologists verified a decrease in menstrual bleeding by measuring the amount of blood in tampons during follow-up appointments, confirming patient reports.
Minerva was designed to help those suffering from heavy, long, and painful periods. Your period may count as heavy if you have to change your pad or tampon multiple times each hour. If your periods last longer than seven days, also known as menorrhagia, Minerva may be a good fit.
Minerva isn’t right for everyone who experiences heavy menstrual periods. Those who are the best candidates for endometrial ablation are healthy. They are not smokers, are not currently pregnant, and have no desire to get pregnant in the future. Pregnancy after Minerva can be dangerous to both you and your baby. Minerva is best for those who have children and want no more.
This procedure requires local anesthesia, which some patients cannot handle. Additionally, your doctor will measure your uterus with an ultrasound scan or hysteroscope to ensure the endometrial ablation device isn’t too wide or long to fit inside.
You should be of childbearing age but not have entered menopause or have any chronic diseases. You cannot receive Minerva if you currently have an infection. You and your doctor can find the proper treatment to let any infections heal first.
Furthermore, patients with an intrauterine device (IUD) must have it removed by a healthcare provider before undergoing this procedure. Patients who use Essure for birth control can not get this endometrial ablation procedure.
Finally, you cannot have endometrial ablation again if you’ve already had the surgery in the past.
If you’re not a good fit for this procedure, there are other options. For example, an IUD may give you relief if you don’t have fibroids or polyps. This effective form of contraception can reduce abnormal uterine bleeding or stop your periods entirely (amenorrhea). An intrauterine device may also be an option to help those dealing with heavy bleeding because of menopause.
Like any medical procedure, Minerva has some side effects. Vaginal discharge is common. It may appear bloody before turning clear. This vaginal discharge can last up to four weeks, during which you can wear panty liners. Spotting is another common side effect of Minerva, for which panty liners are an appropriate solution.
Some patients experience pain and cramping, which can be treated with ibuprofen after an endometrial ablation procedure. In addition, if you’ve previously had a tubal ligation, Minerva can cause new menstrual pain.
More severe side effects include infection. If you develop a fever over 100.4 °F, nausea, vomiting, bladder or bowel issues, or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, you should talk to your doctor.
These side effects are similar to those with NovaSure, an alternative endometrial ablation system.