Endometrial ablation is a procedure for destroying or removing the inner lining of the uterus. The uterus is the muscular organ at the top of the vagina. Babies grow in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus. The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium.
This procedure may be done when you have bleeding from the uterus that is very heavy or has lasted a long time and other treatments have not helped. Destroying or removing the lining of the uterus may reduce or stop the bleeding. It does not change your hormone levels.
Examples of possible alternatives to this procedure are:
You should not have this procedure if:
Ask your provider about your choices for treatment and which might be best for you.
Before you have the procedure, your healthcare provider may prescribe progesterone hormones or other medicine to stop your body from making estrogen for a while. This will shrink the lining of the uterus.
Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day tasks.
Smokers have more complications with surgery and heal more slowly after surgery. Smokers are more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. If you smoke, follow your healthcare provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
If you need a minor pain reliever in the week before the procedure, choose acetaminophen rather than aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. This helps avoid extra bleeding during surgery. If you are taking daily aspirin for a medical condition, ask your provider if you need to stop taking it before the procedure.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you. If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight or the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
Your provider may put a laminaria into the cervix the day before the procedure. Laminaria is a small rod made of seaweed that absorbs moisture. It will help soften and dilate the cervix. It can make the procedure easier and safer to perform.
Some endometrial ablation procedures can be done in your provider’s office. Others are done at a hospital or surgery center.
You will be given a local, regional, or general anesthetic. A local or regional anesthetic numbs part of your body while you remain awake. It should keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. You may be given a sedative with the local or regional anesthetic to relax you. A general anesthetic relaxes your muscles, puts you to sleep, and prevents you from feeling pain.
Your healthcare provider may use a tool to stretch open (dilate) your cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus. Your provider will guide a thin tube called a catheter or another tool into your vagina, through the cervix, and into your uterus.
The lining of the uterus may be destroyed in different ways, such as:
It usually takes only a few minutes to do the ablation.
Usually you can go home the same day as the procedure
After the procedure you may:
Many women don’t have any menstrual bleeding after ablation. Some do keep having periods but with just normal or light bleeding. You will probably not be able to get pregnant after this procedure. However, there is a chance you could get pregnant. If you do get pregnant, the risk of miscarriage and other problems is much higher. If you have concerns about this, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may advise you to use birth control.
Ask your healthcare provider how to care for yourself after the procedure. Ask when you should come back for a checkup.
Bleeding from the uterus should stop or be much less after the procedure.
Endometrial ablation is a short procedure. Recovery from it is quick and easy. Ablation can help you avoid the discomfort, hospitalization, expense, and longer recovery of a hysterectomy.
This is usually a very safe procedure with few complications. Possible complications may include:
Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you.
Call your provider right away if:
Call during office hours if: