Terry Huff, MD is chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Banner Baywood Medical Center. His office can be reached at (480) 897-8000.
Question: I’m 33 years old, am done having children and would like to stop my periods due to heavy bleeding. Is a hysterectomy my only option?
Answer: Endometrial ablation is designed to end the bleeding associated with a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle without long-term consequences or the pain, discomfort and downtime of a hysterectomy.
The bleeding that occurs during menstruation results from shedding of the endometrium – the lining of the uterus. When the uterine lining is destroyed through endometrial ablation, there is nothing left to shed and, in turn, no bleeding. However, since the cervix, uterus and ovaries are not removed, monthly ovulation and the release of hormones still occur. In fact, women still experience some of the discomforts of a period such as bloating and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS) since these factors are controlled by hormones.
There are various methods of endometrial ablation, including those that use cautery, hot water, and freezing. Efficacy rates for each type of procedure vary.
|Endometrial ablation is a relatively short procedure to perform. It can be done in the office under IV sedation with an on-site anesthesiologist. In such cases, patients are in and out in less than an hour compared with a hospital visit that requires more time for pre- and post-operative care. Another factor to consider is the difference in copay requirements between hospital and in-office procedures.
While there is generally no pain following endometrial ablation, about five percent of patients experience light cramping. Most women resume work and normal activities the next day with little more than a discharge that may last up to 30 days.
It is important to note that the purpose of the uterine lining is to prepare for implantation and ensure proper separation of the placenta during pregnancy. When the lining is destroyed, pregnancy becomes a life-threatening condition. Therefore, permanent sterilization is a prerequisite for endometrial ablation.
Talk to your physician about your long-term goals for pregnancy, reasons for wanting to stop your periods and permanent sterilization to determine if endometrial ablation is right for you