Endometrial Ablation

Endometrial ablation refers to a procedure that utilizes cold, heat or other forms of energy to eliminate the tissue that lines the uterus to make sure you have less bleeding during your period. Periods that are heavy can be caused by a variety of reasons. There are a variety of methods for ablation of the endometrium, but they all involve the destruction of the tissue layer which surrounds the uterus. When it’s time to have the period to start, you’ll be bleeding less due to the fact that you’ll have less the lining of your uterus to shed.

How do I know if I have endometrial ablation?

If you experience heavy menstrual cycles as an issue, your doctor might suggest an endometrial ablation to address these issues. It’s less risky and comes with less restrictions than the surgery called a hysterectomy. Many patients do take medications to reduce their bleeding prior to having surgery to remove their endometrial lining. After having an endometrial ablation you might experience no bleeding, or less bleeding, and/or no changes in the bleeding during your period.

What is a considered to be a “heavy” period?

Periods are considered to be heavy if they:

  • Your period will last for more than seven days
  • Limit the ability of you to carry out your usual activities.

Who can undergo endometrial ablation?

Endometrial ablation may help manage the heavy period when medications do not offer relief. You could be a candidate for endometrial ablation in the following situations:

  • You’re certain that you’re not planning to become pregnant! It’s often suggested to have your tubes tied or your partner have a vasectomy. Outcomes of succesful pregnancies after an ablation is not likely or recommended at all.

Who is not eligible for this procedure?

Endometrial ablation may not be suitable for all women. Your physician will examine the bleeding in your body and decide whether endometrial ablation is a possibility for you. In general, you shouldn’t undergo an ablation of your uterus if:

  • Your doctor hasn’t analyzed your bleeding.
  • Your uterus is of an unusual shape.
  • You or your partner have not been sterilized (tubal vasectomy or ligation) or aren’t ready to use birth control following the procedure.
  • You are postmenopausal.
  • In addition, some women with fibroids or who’ve undergone certain surgeries regarding their reproductive organs aren’t able to undergo an endometrial ablation.

Procedure Specifications

What happens after endometrial ablation?

Your physician will determine if an endometrial ablation procedure is the correct procedure to decrease your bleeding. In this examination:

  • You’ll be taking the pregnancy test. You aren’t able to be pregnant while you undergo any endometrial ablation.
  • Your physician may conduct an exploratory biopsy to find unusual cells within your uterus. This will confirm that you don’t suffer from cancer.
  • The doctor will verify which medications you’re taking. It is important to ensure that you’re taking no medication that can cause issues in the course of treatment (for instance, if you’re taking blood thinners).
  • Your doctor will request an ultrasound or MRI to get a better examination of your Uterus.

What happens when you have an endometrial ablation?

Endometrial ablation can be performed at the office or in the surgical room. You’ll be placed on a table like you’re taking a pelvic exam. The doctor may prescribe medication at least an hour prior to endometrial ablation procedure to ease any discomfort following the procedure. Based on the kind of ablation the doctor may make your pelvic region numb and provide sedatives to ensure that you don’t feel discomfort or pain throughout the procedure.

In the course of an endometrial ablation, your doctor places an extremely delicate device shaped like a wand in the vagina. The device is inserted through your cervix before reaching your uterus in which it is able to get to the lining. In accordance with the type of ablation for endometrial tissue it sends out the energy, either cold or heat to destroy a part of the lining.

What are the different types of ablation for endometrial tissue?

There are a variety of ablation for endometrial lining, however they all involve damaging the lining of your uterus. 

Radiowaves (radiofrequency)

A wand-like device equipped with mesh tips that unfurls within your uterus, but just enough that radio waves are able to penetrate the inside of the uterus. The mesh emits radio waves which heat up and kill portions of the liner. The process can take anywhere between 1 and 2 minutes.

“Electro-surgery” (electrosurgery)

A tiny tube-like device, with the ability to view through a lens (resectoscope) is equipped by a loop of wire laser or roller ball that generates electricity. The electricity damages parts of the lining around your uterus. The viewing lens lets your doctor to observe the inside of your uterus and observe the electrical currents which change the liner in to scar tissue. This kind of ablation isn’t the most frequent and could require anesthesia. It is likely that you will have to visit an hospital to undergo electrosurgery.

Clear (Cryoblation)

A tube that has a cold tip makes tiny ice crystals which freeze the uterus’ lining, which destroys it. The process lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.

What happens following endometrial ablation?

Ask a friend or family member take your to your home. Be attentive to your body. You’ll likely notice changes following the endometrial ablation. These are normal, and there’s nothing to worry about.

  • You might feel a bit nauseated.
  • You may need to urinate more on the initial day following the procedure.
  • You could experience cramps that resemble a period for up to three days following an ablation of the endometrial lining.
  • You might experience some pink discharge or light bleeding for a few weeks following. It’s most likely to be the worst on the day 2 or Day 3 following the procedure. It’s because the uterus lining which was removed to ensure it doesn’t cause the heavy menstrual cycle afterward.
  • Allow yourself to recover. Do not bathe or use a tampon for for the initial 3 days after having completed the procedure.

BENEFITS / RISKS

Endometrial ablation is a way to stop heavy bleeding, without the need to take medication every day. It’s a standard procedure. But, the procedure can damage tissue, so there are some risks. Ultimately, the process transforms normal tissue into scar tissue

Menopausal sufferers who have experienced or who are at risk for developing endometrial cancer should not undergo this procedure. Menopausal women are at greater risk of developing endometrial cancer from this procedure.

What will the effects of endometrial ablation be on my weight?

Endometrial ablation will not cause you to gain or lose weight.

How does endometrial ablation affect the intimacy of a woman?

It is important to follow your physician’s instructions. It is not recommended to put anything in your vagina for a couple of days.

What effect will endometrial ablation have on my menstrual cycle?

Your menstrual cycles will be less than they were prior to. You may also not be experiencing a period. Make sure you keep track of the intensity of your menstrual cycle and how often they happen.

What will the effects of endometrial ablation be on the future pregnancies?

You should not have an ablation if you are considering a future pregnancy.

REST and RECOVERY

What is the time to recover?

You’ll be feeling normal within 2 to 3 days, and you’ll be able keep up with your routine. In between two and three months, it will be apparent your menstrual cycles are less frequent. It’s possible to cease having menstrual cycles altogether.

WHAT TIMES SHOULD YOU CONTACT THE DOCTOR?

Check your progress. Contact your doctor for any symptoms that cause you to pause for example:

  • Fever
  • Trouble peeing
  • Excessive cramping
  • Significant bleeding. In the event that you’re using more that one pad in a few hours take yourself to an emergency room
  • Vaginal Discharge that doesn’t look right or smell right
  • If you’re still experiencing regular periods or spotting, after three to four months, you should make the appointment with your doctor to assess your progress.

Be sure to attend any appointments recommended by your physician following your ablation of the endometrium.

The discomfort of heavy periods is not uncommon. They can be a sign there is something wrong. There are a variety of options for treating heavy periods such as endometrial ablation. Endometrial ablation is one option to reduce the amount of bleeding you experience so that it does not hinder the flow of your everyday life. If you’re experiencing frequent periods make appointments with your doctor to determine which treatment would be most suitable for you.

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Iowa Women's Health Center

IWHC is an advanced women's health clinic located in Cedar Rapids, IA. We service all women through central Iowa and in neighboring states for progressive gynecological care. We provide the latest and least invasive medicine throughout Linn County.

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