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Menstrual (Period) Health

When you get your period, mild discomfort and the inconvenience of managing menstrual products like pads and tampons is common. Heavy flow, irregularity and severe pain are not. These issues can wreak havoc on your busy life, but you don't have to endure them alone. 

Experts at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health get to the source of your period problems and deliver therapies that bring you relief. Our providers are available to discuss any period-related concern. Even if symptoms are difficult to describe or don't occur with each cycle, we can still help you.

Menstrual (period) health at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health: Why choose us?

It's natural to feel a little self-conscious about discussing an intimate health issue like your period. But don't let these feelings prevent you from seeking help. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health offers a friendly, welcoming environment with providers who listen with care. 

Highlights of our program include: 

  • Large provider team: Our program is home to a diverse team of highly skilled gynecologists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. They represent a range of races, ethnicities, genders and care philosophies, so you receive care from a provider who understands your preferences. Meet our team
  • Expertise: Our experience treating a high volume of people gives us a depth of knowledge in common and complex menstrual issues. We use research-based methods to diagnose and treat symptoms such as heavy and irregular periods. Find out more about the period health issues we treat below. 
  • Comprehensive care: A thorough evaluation enables us to pinpoint the source of your symptoms. We consider all possible causes, including gynecologic conditions, infections and thyroid issues. You receive effective therapies, including medications and sophisticated fertility-sparing procedures, if necessary.

Seeking gynecologic care on your period
It's not always easy to predict when you'll have your period. If you are menstruating on the day of your appointment, it doesn't mean you have to cancel. We can likely still perform a pelvic exam if it's necessary. You are also welcome to reschedule if you prefer. Read more about preparing for your gynecology appointment.

Period health issues we treat

You may benefit from an evaluation if you are experiencing signs of:

  • Irregular periods (oligomenorrhea) that occur more than 35 days apart 
  • Long periods (menorrhagia), which cause bleeding for more than seven days
  • Metrorrhagia, uterine bleeding not associated with menstruation
  • No period (amenorrhea), missing one or more periods
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms such as irritability, tender breasts and food cravings that occur days before a period
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), severe PMS symptoms that disrupt daily life
  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) that are often due to severe cramps

Evaluation and treatment of heavy and irregular periods

Your care starts with a comprehensive evaluation that often includes a pelvic exam, lab tests and a transvaginal ultrasound. During this imaging study, your provider passes a slender probe through your vagina so they can see detailed views of your uterus.

In some cases, you may need a hysteroscopy. It involves using a thin tube with a camera at the tip to evaluate the uterus. We typically do these procedures in the office.

Our providers can help many people feel better with nonsurgical therapies. Your personalized treatment plan may include pain medications and birth control

We offer a range of hormonal and nonhormonal options to choose from. Your provider can help you decide which one's best for your needs. We may also prescribe nonhormonal medications, like drugs that reduce blood loss during menstruation.

Advanced treatments for heavy periods and irregular menstruation

If medical therapies are not successful, we may recommend a procedure. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is home to experts in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. We deliver advanced therapies using sophisticated technologies and small incisions. You have access to a broad range of options, including treatments that preserve your ability to become pregnant.

  • These treatments include:

    • Dilation and curettage: Your provider temporarily widens the cervix to reach the uterus and remove the top layers of tissue. If symptoms return, you may need an additional procedure. If a diagnostic hysteroscopy shows an unusually thick uterine lining, we often perform dilation and curettage in the same procedure.
    • Myomectomy: Gynecologic surgeons use small incisions and tiny instruments to remove abnormal uterine tissue due to fibroids. They repair the uterine wall, making it possible to have a safe pregnancy.
  • You may be eligible for additional treatment options if you do not wish to become pregnant. They include: 

    • Uterine artery embolization: This treatment is for heavy periods due to uterine fibroids. Specially trained radiologists (interventional radiologists) use tiny tubes to access specific blood vessels in the uterus. They deliver substances to close the arteries feeding the fibroid.
    • Endometrial ablation: Gynecologic surgeons widen (dilate) your cervix and insert a small probe. The tip of the probe has a heat source that destroys the uterine lining. Surgeons also perform this treatment using hysteroscopy.
    • Minimally invasive hysterectomy: Surgically removing the uterus offers permanent relief from heavy periods. But our record of success with embolization and myomectomy means fewer people need a hysterectomy. When a hysterectomy is appropriate, we leave the ovaries intact. This supports hormone activity, enabling you to achieve menopause naturally.

Schedule an appointment

Find out more about our gynecology services in the Puget Sound area or make an appointment.