New treatment for period pain

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
May 19, 2008 4:08:27 PM PDT
There is a new treatment option for women who have heavy or painful periods.Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Women who have heavy and painful menstrual periods are often choose major surgery to remove the uterus. That means general anesthesia, a stay in the hospital and a couple weeks to recover. Now, for some, there's another option.

It is a 20-minute operation done in the doctor's office that may take the place of complicated hysterectomy surgery. It can stop heavy menstrual bleeding in women who've decided not to have children again, women like Regina Summers.

"After I had my second child, I had my tubes tied," she said. "And my cycles were so heavy, an extra day, soaking pads, it was just unbearable."

The procedure Summers chose is done with a cryo wand, inserted through the vagina into the uterus. The wand freezes the uterus lining, destroying the tissue that bleeds each month. The cold is its own anesthesia. When the uterus lining thaws out, it's dead.

"It's for women who have heavy and painful periods, women with small fibroids or any woman who perceives her period to be heavy or uncomfortable," OB/GYN Dr. Robert Rubino said.

Dr. Rubino uses a 3-D ultrasound machine to follow the freezing probe once it's inserted.

Using the ultrasound lets Dr. Rubino know exactly where he's working, so there is less risk of poking through the uterus and fewer risks than other procedures.

Both Summers and Debbie Devries are more than a year out from their cryo surgery.

"I was in some pain afterwards, but that was relieved with some pain medication," Devries said. "And I went to work the next day."

Irene Post was having her period every 18 days.

"So I either had PMS all the time or my period all the time, and it was uncomfortable," she said. "Since I've had the procedure, it's great."

The cryo surgery has only been done in this country for about five years. About 40,000 women in the U.S. have had the cryo done. Dr. Rubino's success rate in his 100 patients is 90 percent. He says the cryo method can be done a second time if it fails the first time.