My perimenopause journey has been dominated by erratic, over-enthusiastic, bleeding. We’re talking tsunami periods, coming too often and overstaying their welcome.
Last October my gynecologist put me on the mini-pill to see if that would regulate my periods. For a while it seemed to work. The periods were still super heavy for a few days, but at least they were going from coming on day 18, to day 22, to day 27…heading in a good normal direction.
Until May. A month that will live in infamy. As will the Period That Would Not Stop. On day 18 of that mess, I emailed my doctor and asked her if I should have an ablation. Friends had cited this procedure as a sure-fire way to end excessive bleeding.
Her answer was that an ablation might be the right call, but first I would have to have a uterine biopsy to make sure no other “bad things” were going on.
Oh, silly doctor. Did you think I wouldn’t head straight to Dr. Google to figure out what “bad things” you could be talking about? Really one bad thing: Uterine cancer. This kind of biopsy can be used to test for endometriosis, but I figured (maybe mistakenly) that wasn’t something one first develops in one’s 50s.
My doctor also sent me info about the biopsy itself. It sounded…unpleasant. Imagine a pap smear where they keep going several inches further up in you for the sample. Taking my IUD out had been unpleasant. This sounded worse.
The info the doctor sent recommended taking Advil before the procedure and also said the doctor might use a “numbing spray” on the cervix, because not only was the procedure itself going to be painful, but it would likely be followed by 24-48 hours of “bad period-like cramping” and bleeding.
Preparing for the worst I made sure my S.O. (significant other) would go with me to the appointment, in case I didn’t feel like driving myself home afterwards. Choking on preparation when it counted, however, I forgot to take the Advil before the appointment.
When I asked my doctor about the “numbing spray,” she said she didn’t use it, explaining that it was like the numbing gel you get at the dentist…it needs to sit for a few minutes to take effect, during which time you’d be lying there, cranked open by the speculum. Given the procedure itself is so short, and that the cervix spray wouldn’t get far enough inside the uterus to mitigate most of the pain involved, she didn’t think those extra minutes of discomfort were worth it.
OK...I guess. Needless to say, I was very anxious.
So, the procedure itself:
My doctor talked me through every step, and I was doing great through the use of the speculum and the application of some cleanser…it felt no different than a normal exam. I was deep breathing, staying calm.
Everything was fine, until it wasn’t. When she reached her destination and started taking that sample from my uterine lining, I won’t say I lost my shit, but I did go from deep breathing to saying aloud, with increasing urgency, “Ow, ow ow, that hurts, that hurts, that HURTS.”
Because it most definitely did. More than the pain itself was the unnaturalness of where it was coming from. You feel this weird stabbing pain from deep inside, where it doesn’t belong. Your whole body wants to constrict and expel whatever is causing that pain at just about the time when you would be better served by relaxing.
That being said, the pain part lasted less than 60 seconds, and once it stopped, it stopped…I did not experience ongoing cramping or even bleeding at all, which was a major surprise, given how much my body has “enjoyed” bleeding and cramping lately.
Any time you go through an intense experience like that, you need a few moments to collect yourself, breathe, drink some water, and let the levels of adrenalin and cortisol subside. Plus, a nurse gave me some Advil once it was over.
But I drove myself home, and given I had cleared my next couple of days in case I was in bad shape, I had a very relaxing long weekend.
Not to bury the lede, but my results came back five days later, and were normal.
Which is fantastic! But begged the question: So, what can I do about this bleeding?
Stay tuned, because my doctor laid out three options, none of which are the magic solution I was hoping for…
NOTICE: PEPPER & WITS DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE ADVICE. OUR EMPLOYEES AND OTHER REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOT PHYSICIANS OR HEALTH CARE CLINICIANS. YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR PERSONAL PHYSICIAN FOR ANY MEDICAL AND/OR OTHER HEALTH CARE ADVICE BEFORE ACTING ON ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED BY PEPPER & WITS OR ANY OTHER SOURCE.