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Heavy menstrual periods



Women who suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) may now choose a minimally invasive alternative to hysterectomy. About 20 percent of women in the United States suffer from menorrhagia.

The procedure, Gynecare THERMACHOICE" uterine balloon therapy, is offered in the Louisville area at Baptist Health Louisville.

Menorrhagia is a chronic condition which is a common cause of iron deficiency anemia in women. The most common cause is hormonal imbalance, especially in women ages 35-45, prior to menopause. Benign uterine growths, such as fibroids or polyps, infection or chronic illness can also cause excessive bleeding.

Candidates for uterine balloon therapy experience heavy menstrual periods that interfere with their lives or work schedules, and have completed childbearing.

During the procedure, which takes about 10 minutes, a plastic balloon attached to a catheter is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix and placed into the uterus. The balloon is filled with 188 degrees Fahrenheit sterile fluid for eight minutes, destroying the uterine lining. This is to minimize the amount of blood lost each month, and to stop the heavy periods.

When the treatment is finished, the fluid is withdrawn from the balloon and the catheter is removed.

Patients bounce back quickly from the procedure. Most go home from the hospital the same day of the surgery.

The procedure has been widely performed in Europe and now has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.

In about 65 percent of the cases, it causes lighter menstrual periods.