Endometrial ablation is a procedure that surgically destroys (ablates) the lining of your uterus (endometrium). The goal of endometrial ablation is to reduce menstrual flow. In some women, menstrual flow may stop completely.
No incisions are needed for endometrial ablation. Your doctor inserts slender tools through the passageway between your vagina and uterus (cervix).
The tools vary, depending on the method used to ablate the endometrium. They might include extreme cold, heated fluids, microwave energy or high-energy radiofrequencies.
Some types of endometrial ablation can be done in your doctor's office. Others must be performed in an operating room. Factors such as the size and condition of your uterus will help determine which endometrial ablation method is most appropriate.
Endometrial ablation is a treatment for excessive menstrual blood loss. Your doctor might recommend endometrial ablation if you have:
To reduce menstrual bleeding, doctors generally start by prescribing medications or an intrauterine device (IUD). Endometrial ablation might be an option if these other treatments don't help or if you're not able to have other therapies.
Endometrial ablation generally isn't recommended for postmenopausal women or women who have:
Complications of endometrial ablation are rare and can include:
Pregnancy can occur after endometrial ablation. However, these pregnancies might be higher risk to mother and baby. The pregnancy might end in miscarriage because the lining of the uterus has been damaged, or the pregnancy might occur in the fallopian tubes or cervix instead of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
Some types of sterilization procedures can be done at the time of endometrial ablation. If you are having endometrial ablation, long-lasting contraception or sterilization is recommended to prevent pregnancy.
In the weeks before the procedure, your doctor might:
Endometrial ablation can be performed in your doctor's office. But some types of endometrial ablation are performed in a hospital, especially if you will need general anesthesia.
The opening in your cervix needs to be widened (dilated) to allow for the passage of the instruments used in endometrial ablation. Dilation of your cervix can happen with medication or the insertion of a series of rods that gradually increase in diameter.
Endometrial ablation procedures vary by the method used to remove your endometrium. Options include:
After endometrial ablation, you might experience:
One type of endometrial ablation uses a thermal balloon filled with heated fluid to destroy the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
During radiofrequency ablation, your doctor uses a triangular ablation device which transmits radiofrequency energy and destroys the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium). The ablation device is then removed from the uterus.
It might take a few months to see the final results, but endometrial ablation usually reduces the amount of blood lost during menstruation. Most women will have lighter periods, and some will stop having periods entirely.
Endometrial ablation isn't a sterilization procedure, so you should continue to use contraception. Pregnancy might still be possible, but it will likely be hazardous and end in miscarriage.