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New Procedure Being Used To Treat Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

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CARY, N.C. — Most women deal with some type of cramping or discomfort during their menstrual cycles, but for some, excessive bleeding makes daily activities nearly impossible. Researchers are looking at a new, faster way to fix the problem.

As a pediatrician, Dr. Karen Burke-Haynes looks for little things that might make kids sick, but when she started having problems with heavy menstrual bleeding, she did not think much about it.

"It was subtle. I think, at first, I dismissed it," she said.

It got worse, and Burke-Haynes said she had trouble concentrating.

"The need to focus on what you're doing is important," she said.

Burke-Haynes is not alone. Twenty percent of women experience heavy bleeding with a condition called menorrhagia.

"It goes from inconvenient to all the way that patients require hospitalization for bleeding," said Dr. Gerald Mulvaney.

Mulvaney said until now treatment options included a hysterectomy or a 2-hour procedure to remove the lining of the uterus.

"This would be akin to painting this room with a toothbrush. You can get it done, but it's very tedious," he said.

Mulvaney is the first doctor in North Carolina to perform a procedure using NovaSure. The device is inserted into the uterus and expanded. Using electronic energy, it destroys the endometrial lining while leaving the uterus intact.

"It really take about 90 seconds or less," he said.

The procedure can be done on an out-patient basis. After Burkes-Haynes had it, she had some cramping.

"A type of discomfort that I could easily ignore or medicate with Motrin," she said.

Studies show 91 percent of women respond to the treatment.

"They have less bleeding. They're not as irregular as they were before and as I said, half have no bleeding at all," Mulvaney said.

Right now, the only device in the area is at Western Wake Medical Center, but Mulvaney said he has had such good results that he is sure it will be offered at other hospitals.