Abnormal uterine bleeding is common, but it can be treated.
Patty Lealy knows what a hero looks like. When her sister was diagnosed with a tumor in her fallopian tube, her doctor wanted to perform a full hysterectomy. Providing a second opinion, Steven Pillow, MD, gynecologist, saw a chance to preserve her sister's fertility and advised a different course of action. "She has a family because of Dr. Pillow, and we're so grateful," Lealy says.
Lealy's association with Dr. Pillow did not end there. Dr. Pillow went on to deliver her own daughter at Florida Hospital Waterman and, years later, treated Lealy when she experienced abnormal bleeding. "I was in terrible pain and had absolutely no energy," Lealy says. "I didn't want to leave the house."
Don't wait - get treatment
"Abnormal bleeding is a common problem, but more than 80 percent of women who experience it choose not to seek help, thinking that it's just a normal part of getting older," Dr. Pillow says. "But it can take a toll on a woman's family, social and work life. There's no reason to put off treatment."
Dr. Pillow notes that treatments for uterine fibroids and abnormal bleeding continue to advance, providing alternatives to hysterectomy where medically possible. "Endometrial ablation is an easy, safe and effective technique that corrects abnormal uterine bleeding in 90 percent of the female patients treated," Dr. Pillow says. "The procedure can be completed in less than 10 minutes, recovery is short and symptoms of cramping typically disappear in a few days."
Dr. Pillow determined that Lealy's issues were caused by uterine fibroids, masses that can appear during a woman's childbearing years. While not cancerous, fibroids can grow to the point where they severely limit a woman's quality of life, causing heavy bleeding, pelvic pressure and pain, bladder problems, backache, and leg discomfort.
Minimally invasive surgery
Lealy's fibroids required more serious treatment to bring relief: a hysterectomy. "Total abdominal hysterectomy is used for fibroids that do not respond to embolization," Dr. Pillow says. "When a hysterectomy is necessary, performing it laprascopically can make recovery faster." While facing a hysterectomy can be an emotional, even frightening prospect, Lealy has no regrets.
"The surgery changed my life," Lealy says, noting that her recovery from the procedure was easier than anticipated. "I had no issues because of the pain relief provided in the hospital and the post-op medications Dr. Pillow prescribed."
These days, Lealy is out walking with her dog every day and enjoys spending time with her family. "The fibroids were giving me problems for years," Lealy says, "but now I am doing great, and I owe it all to Dr. Pillow."
Waterman Wellness, Summer 2015 issue