D/C Expereinces
September 16, 2019 5:39 PM   Subscribe

After 2 instances of unexplained vaginal bleeding, my GYN wants to do a D/C.

I'm currently undergoing treatment for HER+ breast cancer. Part of it is a quarterly shot of Lupron. I had one episode of unexplained bleeding. The Lupron shuts down my ovaries, so I should be having bleeding. The doctor tried to do a uterine biopsy in the office. For various reasons (mainly childhood sexual abuse), this did not go well. Then she sent me for a ultrasound. The ultrasound looked clean (though one of the ovaries could not be visualized), so she told me unless I had another incident, we'd just keep an eye on it. Well, I had another one. She wants to do a D/C with possible ablation.

I'm having it done next Thursday. I'm freaked out because of my sexual trauma of course. But my mom also died in part because of uterine cancer. I'm hoping that the normal (-ish) ultrasound makes cancer less likely, but I don't know. It will be done at a local hospital under anesthesia. I'm not (really) worried about the anesthesia, but did have a nasty experience with it after my gastric sleeve (completely out of it for 5-6 days).

I am definitely taking Friday off, no question about that. I'm supposed to be going to a CE class on Monday, but I've canceled already. I let my boss know that I would call Monday morning if I wasn't going to be in that afternoon.

I'm looking for experiences on how the procedure went, recovery, how long before you were able to go back to work. Are there any side effects? Mental health issues? Basically anything you can tell me that you think might help.

I do have an appointment with my therapist who I just started seeing again for this very reason on Wednesday. So I will have a bit of professional help before surgery.

Thank you a million times!
posted by kathrynm to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suspect some women might not want to chime in here, but a D&C is an incredibly routine procedure for doctors, whether with a local or anesthesia. They do these all the time for a host of reasons.

I'm not suggesting you are wrong to be concerned, not at all. I get why this is stressful. But it might help you to remember that for them, this is an extraordinarily common procedure. Many women go back to work the day after a D&C and feel just fine. As for as mental health issues: it would be the same as with any outpatient procedure.

I think we don't hear more about this experience that many women have because of the stigma around abortion (even though D&Cs are done for a range of reasons), but you know dozens of women who have had these without incident.

Good luck to you.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:46 PM on September 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had one, for abnormal bleeding. I had had an ultrasound that showed a bunch of polyps, and my doctor wanted to do the D & C, remove those, and check to make sure everything was normal. I had it done under general anesthesia, went home the same day, and was totally fine by the next day. I remember some light cramping afterward, but nothing too bad. I felt totally fine within 24-48 hours.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:54 PM on September 16, 2019

I had two for missed miscarriages. I don't remember anesthesia at all, so it must have been a local - I was awake the whole time. It felt a lot like getting a pap smear, only it took a lot longer - more massive discomfort than pain. There was a lot of bleeding for the next 24-48 hours, enough to require fairly thick pads, but that may have partially been because of the miscarriages themself.

Afterwards I had some painful cramping, but was back to myself within a day or so. I wasn't working at the time but I don't think I would have had a physical problem going back within a day, though I was emotionally pretty shaky.
posted by Mchelly at 6:02 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had a d&c last February.
I asked a lot of questions beforehand and my Gyn was wonderful. She just acted like all these questions were completely excellent and like she hadn’t heard them all a thousand times before. You know how you can tell when someone is deliberately being patient with you? She wasn’t patient like that. She just seemed to have all the time in the world and enjoyed talking to me about all the minutiae of things that were really, really unlikely to be a problem.
It went fine. My biggest worry was being "exposed" to everyone in the room, but I was asleep for that part and felt completely dignified the whole way through. Anesthesia was complete but pretty light, I think. I woke up easily; there were no side effects at all that I could tell. I think we stopped for a late lunch on the way home. There was minimal cramping, light spotting a few days later, and that was it. I could have gone back to work the next day, if I worked.

Plus, it actually identified the problem, and we dealt with it and all is well now.

A+++, would do it again.

Best of luck to you, may it be as routine as mine was.
MeMail me if you want to.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:09 PM on September 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, and hey, uterine biopsies hurt. You kind of sound like you feel guilty about it "not going well." Please don’t. They are unpleasant for everyone, I think. And they don’t really give you that much information. A d&c is much more useful. Kudos to you for doing what needs to be done.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:13 PM on September 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

I had a D&C under general (no ablation) for a uterine polyp. I had a bit more cramping and bleeding than I expected for the day afterwards, but I was able to work and act normally by the next day. Beforehand I was nervous about being positioned for the procedure, but they did it while I was under.

If you’ve had a bad past experience with anesthesia, it is completely within reason to ask for a pre-procedure consult with anesthesiology if one is not already scheduled. They may be able to try something different from what was used for your prior surgery.
posted by LadyInWaiting at 6:41 PM on September 16, 2019

I should add my GYN couldn't get in far enough to even get to my cervix. I'm not sexually active and I'm quite small. Between that and the anxiety it was never going to happen.

I'm a preschool teacher so I'm up and down a lot along with running, jumping etc. I'm sure I'll need Friday off. It's good to know that I'll most likely be able to go back on Monday,

Thank you ladies. I appreciate it.
posted by kathrynm at 8:33 PM on September 16, 2019

I had one with anesthesia.

I wasn't to eat or drink after midnight. I was worried I would get nauseous, and I told them, and they prescribed a suppository anti-emetic -- this was a huge lifesaver!! (It only works for a few hours, so they said to use it at the first sign of nausea, which I did, and I felt better almost immediately. It was like magic.)

First they had me wait in the room where I'd be recovering, and they hooked me up to some kind of IV. I don't know what was in that -- I suddenly got nervous/panicky, but I don't know if it was a side effect of what was in the IV or just the fact that I was getting an IV, which scares the crap outta me under the best of circumstances. (It was probably the latter.) I just closed my eyes and went to my happy place.

Then I was led into the procedure room and positioned in the chair/stirrup thing. They added something to my IV. I said I was nervous, the doctor said something (I don't remember what but I remember feeling reassured) and then my chest went a bit cold and I guess I was out.

I woke up in the recovery room on a bed. The whole thing took about 15 minutes -- at my clinic, you have to rest in the clinic for two hours after anesthesia so they can make sure you're OK before they let you leave. My previous experience with general anesthesia had been absolutely awful, but this time was really no big deal!

I regained full awareness over about 20 minutes and then just laid in the bed playing phone games and texting my friends until they released me. I was a bit out of it, but no worse than that, and took the train home from the doctor's without a problem.

I had some ordinary, period-like pain and bleeding after. I was back to work the next day at a sitting-down job. I commuted by walking and (standing up on the) train, but as long as I took it easy (no running for trains) this was not a problem.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 11:01 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

A few years ago, I had a D&C without any form of anesthesia. This was of course not normal, I wouldn't recommend it, and it's taken me a few years to get the confirmation that this was what actually happened (I think the hospital was scared I might sue). But, for your purpose I think this is an indication that this is a very small routine procedure that is often done with just local anesthesia, and nothing at all compared to your previous surgery. I'm pretty sure I shopped on the way home and cooked dinner for my family that evening. There was a little bleeding and pain after, but nothing out of the ordinary.

I know you feel this is a big issue, but a bigger issue, given your family history, is wether you have had the CA-125 blood test. I only know because my nurse sister just asked me (though I did have it). Ovarian cancer is hard to trace, and the
D & C isn't useful for that, it just eliminates some other causes for bleeding. The blood test in itself isn't perfect either, you need a combination of the different methods.
posted by mumimor at 8:09 AM on September 17, 2019

So the other thing to remember is that the anesthesia means you'll be relaxed, which is also going to make this procedure a lot easier for your doctor than them doing even a less invasive procedure when you are conscious. Your body isn't wrong.

I'm so glad you are seeing a therapist. I hope you also have some people who can support you with some company and kindness before and after the procedure? Even though it's a routine procedure for many (and I truly hope my saying that is coming across in a supportive, not dismissive way), it's also totally reasonable to call in your people to support you because of the emotional challenges right now.

And taking Friday off sounds sensible and a good approach to self care.

Good luck! I'm sending a virtual cup of cozy tea.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:40 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've had two D&C procedures. Both times, it was done under general anesthesia - they wheeled me in, stuck an IV in my arm, my arm went cold, and then I woke up after it was over. By no means am I dismissing the gravity of the situation, but it felt like I had taken the best nap ever. General anesthesia is different for everyone, so YMMV. My head felt a bit woolly for half an hour or so. They had me rest there for a couple hours after which my boyfriend drove me home.

The first time, I had no discomfort, just heavy bleeding that stopped within 24 hours. The second time, I had quite severe cramps (like PMS, just a lot more intense.) My OB/GYN had prescribed painkillers both times, but I only needed those the second time.

Stock up on a box of maxi pads. If you have no bad after-effects, the best thing you can do is practice self-care - taking Friday off is a great idea. I hope this procedure is as routine and pain-free for you as it was for me.
posted by Everydayville at 12:12 PM on September 17, 2019

I had a D&C with local anesthesia and heavy sedation and it went really well. The most traumatic part for me was the nurse had so much trouble getting the IV in my arm and didn't want to admit she needed help. I wish that I had made her go get someone else to do it after like the fourth time she poked me and failed to get the vein. Grr I'm still irritated at that nurse! Of course most IVs go in much easier than that and it's not really something to worry about.

I don't remember the actual D&C due to the sedation drugs but I remember feeling very relaxed and content as I was coming out of it. Mine was due to a miscarriage and I was determined to be gentle with myself, so I spent the next two full days on the couch with a hot water bottle, eating ice cream and watching Parks and Recreation. There was some bleeding and cramping but not a terrible amount, like a heavy period. I think they might have prescribed me some painkillers but I don't remember needing them. I do remember thinking that I would have been totally fine physically to go back to my office job the second day.

It sounds like a really difficult situation. Take good care of yourself!
posted by beandip at 3:08 PM on September 17, 2019

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