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March 18, 2009 > Symptoms That Shouldn't Be Ignored

Symptoms That Shouldn't Be Ignored

Physician Discusses Diagnosis and Treatment for Heavy Periods

If you've experienced chronic, heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle, chances are you've visited your gynecologist. But you still may have a number of unanswered questions about diagnosis and treatment options.

As part of the Evening Lecture Series for Women at the Washington Women's Center, Washington Hospital Medical Staff interventional radiologist Dr. Bruce Lin will discuss conditions that cause heavy menstrual bleeding, how imaging technology can be used to diagnose many of them, as well as minimally invasive treatments for some of those conditions.

His talk, Heavy Menstrual Bleeding - Alternatives to Hysterectomy, will take place on Tuesday, March 24, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Women's Center, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

"If you are you're getting up several times in the middle of the night to change pads or have bleeding more than a week, you should obviously seeks professional medical help such as a gynecologist," Dr. Lin says. "Certainly if heavy menstrual bleeding is preventing you from having a normal routine, then you should seek medical advice."

Potential causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, called menorrhagia, include:
* Hormonal imbalance
* Uterine fibroids or polyps
* Ovarian dysfunction
* Adenomyosis, a condition in which glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, often causing heavy bleeding and pain
* Cancer, which must be ruled out through an endometrial biopsy
* Certain medications, such as blood thinners
* Endometriosis
* Other medical conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease

Most women, according to Dr. Lin, will and should visit their gynecologist for symptoms, but he can also counsel patients about some diagnostic and treatment options for certain conditions when referred by the physicians. As an interventional radiologist, Dr. Lin's specialty includes imaging diagnosis and minimally invasive treatments of conditions like fibroids and adenomyosis.

"We will briefly discuss the conditions that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and then describe some diagnostic tools that are available, with an emphasis on imaging resources, " Dr. Lin says. "I will also describe some minimally invasive treatment options with special focus on fibroids."

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors of the uterus that can appear during childbearing years and may cause heavier than normal or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Dr. Lin will be discussing uterine fibroid embolization as an alternative to hysterectomy, which involves removal of the uterus. He says that in some cases, fibroid embolization can serve as a complementary procedure to other surgical options like myomectomy, hysterectomy and hysterectomy down the road. Notably, treatments that Dr. Lin performs for uterine fibroids generally involve significantly less recovery time than hysterectomy surgery.

"Many women ask, 'When can I return to work?' and it varies from person to person," Dr. Lin explains. "Most of the time we expect the recovery to be about a week on average. Recovery does not necessarily mean bed rest. Some pain medication may be required during the initial days of comfortably resting at home. These therapies are categorized as minimally invasive procedures, which means that there are no incisions, just a small puncture hole and a shorter recovery than traditional surgery."

"Whenever possible, we want to effectively treat symptoms while conserving the uterus," Dr. Lin says. "Minimally invasive procedures allow patients to recover quicker, with minimal disruption of their professional, social and family life. Particularly in these cases when it can be a monthly recurring problem, you want to take care of it with the least amount of downtime."

"One of the most important advantages about these minimally invasive procedures is that they don't burn bridges for more traditional forms of surgical treatment, such as hysterectomy, if those become necessary down the road."

Dr. Lin says it's important for women to be aware of their options when it concerns their uterus. As medical technology and treatments continue to advance, he says it is vital for patients to understand their alternatives and be able to ask well-informed questions of their medical providers.

"Be educated and know your options," he recommends. "Every year, there are new techniques or technology that may be more effective and less invasive. Many women have said to me, 'I would have pursued this if I had known earlier that such a minimally invasive option was available.' As a physician, one of the things we always try to do is give patients options, but patients also need to do their need to do due diligence when it comes to their bodies."


Know your options

To find out more about heavy menstrual bleeding and minimally invasive treatment options, join Dr. Bruce Lin for his discussion at the Washington Women's Center, which will include a brief question and answer session.

To find a physician in your area, visit www.whhs.com and click on "Find a Physician."

WHAT: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding - An Alternative to Hysterectomy
WHEN: Tuesday, March 24, 6:30 to 7 p.m. networking and sharing with other women; 7 to 8 p.m. presentation by Dr. Bruce Lin
WHERE: Washington Women's Center, 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont
TO REGISTER: Call (800) 963-7070

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