WHY I HAD AN ABLATION AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE

Why I had an ablation, what led up to my decision, and why it was the best procedure for me in Midlife. #Midlifehealth #ablation

MY ABLATION STORY

There's not a lot online about the lead-up to, and experience of, an ablation in Midlife, so I thought I'd share my journey for those who're in the process of dealing with pre-menopausal period problems. This is my story....

As I neared my 50’s I listened to all my friends bragging about how their periods had dwindled away to nothing and how great it was to not have to worry about ‘accidents’ and sanitary products and all the other inconveniences that come each month.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the same stories, because instead of getting lighter, my period became more persistent and heavier. The first time it impacted me was when I was on a dream holiday and our cruise boat had pulled into Barcelona. I woke up with my lovely white sheeted bed looking like an axe murder had occurred. There was blood everywhere and I was beyond embarrassed (and under-prepared). The girl who looked after our cabin was very understanding, but I was in tears and it wasn’t quite the ending to our trip that I’d anticipated.

MY FIRST DOCTOR’S VISIT

When we returned to Australia I went to see my doctor to discuss the flooding situation and he recommended going back onto oral contraception (I was 48 at the time). This worked well for me until I had another GP visit a few years later and was seen by a different doctor. He was horrified to see that I was on the Pill and went into great detail on the risks associated with being on the Pill after 50. He also refused to prescribe it again unless I signed a declaration to state that he’d warned me that it may cause a number of problems, including fatality!

Needless to say, I declined and we then had to figure out an alternative. He recommended Tranexamic Acid tablets to reduce the severity of the bleeding. So that’s the way we managed it for another few years. The bleeding was still frequent, but with management it wasn’t too bad – until I was at work and had another flooding episode – it was a nightmare to try to clean up and disguise the result until I could get home that night.

NEXT STEPS

Life continued on for a while longer, but then my period started and wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t go without sanitary protection for weeks and I was tired and rundown. Back to the doctor I went, and this time I had a female GP who was most understanding and wanted to do some blood tests. The blood tests showed my iron levels were almost non-existent and she put me on iron supplements and we decided to monitor the situation. After a second set of tests my iron was still low and I’d been bleeding for 6 weeks at that stage, so she arranged an internal ultrasound (not quite what I expected and a bit confronting when the technician explained to me that it would be done intra-vaginally!)

What it showed was a major thickening of my uterine lining and polyps and bleeding spots. I was sent straight back to the doctor and she immediately referred me to a gynaecologist for a consult. I was given an appointment within days because (unknown to me) thickening of the lining at my age was a major indicator of uterine cancer.

THE GYNACOLOGIST VISIT

The visit to the gynaecologist went quickly and smoothly and I was booked in for a D and C within a couple of days (he had a cancellation) and I thought that would be the end of it. The procedure was a day surgery visit and over and done with quickly and easily. But….the bleeding got worse. I waited a couple of days (while feeling worse and worse) and then called to ask what I should do. That resulted in a call back from his office and another appointment within a day to discuss things. The D and C ruled out cancer, so we could now proceed to the next step.

My only hospital photo
That next step was a Novasure ablation – at this point I was expecting a hysterectomy, so I was very relieved because an ablation is a much simpler and less invasive process with no down time from my job or from life in general (a hysterectomy would have meant surgery and 6 weeks of recovery time). So he booked me into another cancellation spot and exactly a week after my D and C I was back in the hospital for the ablation.

THE ABLATION

For someone who rarely gets sick or goes to the doctor, the last month or so had been quite confronting, draining, and worrying - and so was a second hospital visit in such a short time. The hospital staff were lovely and it was only a day procedure again but I really was exhausted by it all, anaemic, and ready to try anything. I was wheeled in and anaesthetized, and before I knew it I was waking up in recovery.

The specialist had performed a NovaSure ablation where they basically “cook” the lining of the uterus – it’s fairly simple and straightforward for someone like me who has no plans for any further pregnancies. It’s not recommended for those who want to have more children. I went home that afternoon with no bleeding, but with a rusty discharge and a little bit of abdominal cramping (much like period pain).


What happens in a NovaSure Ablation

RECOVERY

The cramping settled down within a day (I just used a heat pack to manage it) The discharge (which is a serum - much like what's inside blisters) took a lot longer to stop. It can take up to eight weeks for the lining blistering to heal – and, apparently, I have a large uterus (due to having very large babies) so it took at least a month to completely subside. A small trickle is much easier to manage than a full-on period though.

I had my iron checked a few months after the procedure and it was back to normal and no supplements needed. I had no time off work and no problems with recovery (other than wearing a panty liner for a few weeks). I was so relieved to have it all behind me and to not have the constant threat of bleeding hanging over me. I could even wear white pants again – something I hadn’t done for several years.

NOW

It’s been 18 months since my ablation and I haven’t had a single bleed since the operation. My iron levels are perfect, and I don’t even think about having a period. I finally gave away all my unused sanitary products and that was a happy day indeed. I’ve still been ovulating because I notice the changes in my body (I get hormonal headaches) but that’s slowing down too and I’m definitely in perimenopause and noticing the beginning of some of the symptoms (hot flashes etc).

The ablation didn’t speed up or slow down my journey towards menopause, it just freed me up from the debilitating results of flooding, lengthy periods, and iron loss. I now recommend it to any woman past childbearing age who is having problems with her periods. It’s so much less invasive than a hysterectomy, and so much better than suffering in silence and wearing black pants!


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Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I am not a medical professional nor am I providing medical guidance. This post should not be taken as specific health advice. It’s a post that relates only to my own health and my experience of an ablation. I advise you to speak to your own Doctor or health professional for advice before deciding yourself.

Why I had an ablation, what led up to my decision, and why it was the best procedure for me in Midlife. #Midlifehealth #ablation
Why I had an ablation, what led up to my decision, and why it was the best procedure for me in Midlife. #Midlifehealth #ablation

Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive