How can endometrial ablation help me?
Karla Loken, D.O., an obstetrician/gynecologist with McKee Center for Women’s Health.
Question: What is endometrial ablation and how can it help me with my periods?
Answer: Women whose heavy menstrual periods or irregular periods affect their daily living have an option that is becoming more widely used. Your mother’s painful hysterectomy is not the only option anymore.
Endometrial ablation is a procedure using heat to destroy the lining of the uterus, which is the part that produces the menstrual flow. Ablation is an option to birth control pills, IUDs or a hysterectomy to significantly reduce or completely stop monthly periods.
An endometrial ablation is recommended when:
- A woman has heavy periods to the point where it interrupts daily living.
- A woman has irregular bleeding.
- A woman is pre-menopausal and would like to end her period but does not want surgery.
- A woman has heavy bleeding that has failed to respond to medical therapy
The ablation can be done in an office setting or in the hospital depending on your situation, insurance and your provider’s preference.
The procedure is done through the cervix, so there is no abdominal incision. The patient may have some uterine cramping during the procedure and for the next day as well as discharge for two weeks to a month.
There are many devices that are used to perform endometrial ablation. Three commonly used techniques use: heated water, a balloon filled with heated water and a wand that conducts an electrical current. The procedure is non-invasive and doesn’t use hormones. Once the device is inside the uterus, it safely heats the inside of the uterine cavity and destroys the endometrium -- the layer that makes menstrual blood.
Women should review with their physician the procedure’s risks, which include uterine perforation. There is also a risk of ectopic pregnancy for women who have not gone through menopause and do not use any other form of birth control. Ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition if not treated.
Women who want to have more children, or women who have endometrial cancer are not candidates for ablation.
If heavy bleeding is adversely affecting your life, it is time to talk to your doctor. Ablation procedures can only be done by an OB/GYN.