Also, I'll admit, it gave me a chance to: a) play around with my years of menstrual cup/flow data; b) use my cup again to measure menstrual flow. :P
atalanta0jess, I know you were hoping for spreadsheets and graphs and stuff, but I think they are just not going to happen. Either I have time to make pretty graphs or I have time to put up the post. So I'm going with posting. :)
So, um. I have over 6 years' worth of menstrual flow data saved up. I measure, on average, 2-3 cycles per year and have done so since the latter part of 2004. I did not, however, measure at all during the 6 months I had a Mirena in place because I did not use my cup then.
Days have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Flow measurements have been rounded to the nearest 5mL.
Averages with all times of bleeding (on and off HBC) included:
Days of Bleeding: 14
Total Flow**: 2575mL
CD 7*** Hemoglobin Level: 7.9
Then, because there were plenty of times when I was bleeding 21+ out of 28 days on HBC, I ran the numbers just when I was having natural cycles. Those look like this:
Averages for natural cycles:
Days of Bleeding: 12
Total Flow: 2070mL
So, yeah, turns out I was actually bleeding more when I was on HBC (to suppress period pain and bleeding, ironically) than when I wasn't. Because of that, when calculating percent changes for post-ablation cycles, I'm going to calculate the changes from both averages. I'm sure using the higher, HBC-inclusive number will be more impressive, but comparing natural cycle to natural cycle might be more valid.
Post-Ablation Cycle 1:
Okay, so from how my gynecologist explained it to me, the first cycle post-ablation could well be a crapshoot. In other words, that just because it was light or heavy or long or short didn't mean that this was what I should expect for future cycles. However, the "big change" adjustment will probably be noticeable by cycle 3, with some "fine tuning" changes through cycle 6 -- and maybe some more changes (lighter or heavier) through cycle 12.
I'm posting both cycles 1 and 2 here because they were both kind of screwy in their own ways. My first cycle post-ablation was about 40 days, my second about 20 days. I'm assuming that holiday and end-of-semester stresses factored in there and that at least one of those cycles was anovulatory (I haven't been tracking BBT, so I can't confirm or refute this).
Additionally, the appearance of my menstrual fluid in Cycle 1 was pretty strange. It was lighter in color and more liquid in consistency (very runny, zero clots) than is typical for me. It was almost like a small amount of actual blood was tinting a large amount of serum, and that was what was coming out of me. I think bleeding was also less painful this time around, though I'm going on memory from that. I'm actually remembering a lack of times where I was desperate to take a Tylenol 3 but couldn't (because of needing to work, needing to drive, etc.) -- but I'm not sure if that's because I was in less pain or due to a lack of interfering factors (e.g., I was on Christmas break and so did not need to be driving).
Cycle 1 Stats:
Days of Bleeding: 11
Total Flow: 2370mL
Percent Change from Total Average: -7.96%
Percent Change from Natural Cycles Average: +14.49%
CD 7 Hemoglobin: No idea, didn't go. (Hey, sometimes life happens.)
Post-Ablation Cycle 2:
Disclaimer: I am not actually finished with Cycle 2 yet, so these numbers may be off. But because of the wonkiness of the first cycle, I wanted to include the second in this post as well. I'm to the point where I'm filling a small Lady and/or medium Meluna to the holes every 8 hours or so, so things shouldn't change much. However, I will come back and edit these numbers once I've stopped bleeding.
Aside from the shortened length, this cycle was much closer to what I was expecting. I still had a couple of days of gushing (full Fleur in less than an hour, repeatedly) and a couple of days of heavy (full Fleur in 2 hours or less). But compared to a week of gushing pre-Thermachoice, you know what? I WILL TAKE IT. :P Pain-wise, though, this cycle has been intense, and I can't say there's been any kind of pain decrease at all.
Cycle 2 Stats:
Days of Bleeding: 11
Total Flow: 1875mL
Percent Change from Total Average: -27.18%
Percent Change from Natural Cycles Average: -9.42%
CD 7 Hemoglobin: I forgot the exact number, 8-point-something.
(Note: All graph bars are eyeball estimates. No claim is made that the bars are totally accurate, as evidenced by the fact that I made a graph on Cheezburger.com.)
According to this article, balloon ablation techniques have success rates of 90-100%, depending on how one defines success. (In one study, there were 0 reports of menorrhagia. I would be a-okay using lack of Crimson Tide as a personal measure of success.) So I am hopeful but impatient. :)
** "Total flow" includes the amount of fluid actually contained inside my cup at the time of removal. It does not include fluid that spilled onto my hand or that leaked onto my pad/underwear/pants/toilet/etc. I realize that underestimates some of these amounts, but I wanted to stick with what I could objectively measure.
*** Since January 2009 but not including the time I was on Mirena. Also, while I'm supposed to go between CD 7 and CD 10, there are times I do not make it to the draw center exactly in that time frame. (And there are times I do not make it to the draw center at all.)