About the Procedure
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your OB-GYN specialist will likely start by prescribing medication, including birth control options, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
If those treatments fail to bring you relief, they may recommend endometrial ablation. With this nonsurgical option, a slim tool is inserted between the vagina and cervix to remove the lining of the uterus.
Methods vary depending on the condition and shape of the uterus. Options include:
- Cryoablation: Several ice balls are created in the uterus; as these freeze, they eliminate the endometrium (endometrial tissue). Your doctor will use an ultrasound to determine the progress and the number of cycles needed to complete the procedure.
- Electrosurgery: A heated wire loop is passed through a scope that has been inserted into the uterus. It is used to carve furrows into the endometrium (endometrial tissue). This method is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia
- Free-flowing hot fluid: Saline is heated and circulated within the uterus for several minutes. This procedure is used for women with irregular uterus shapes or who suffer from abnormal tissue growth, intracavity lesions or uterine fibroids.
- Heated balloon: A balloon device is inserted through the cervix and filled with heated fluid, which eliminates endometrium. This procedure takes between two to 10 minutes and can be performed in-office.
- Microwave: A wand that emits microwaves is inserted through the cervix, heating and eliminating endometrial tissue in three to five minutes.
- Radiofrequency: A flexible ablation device that emits radiofrequency energy is inserted into the uterus and vaporizes endometrial tissue in one to two minutes.
Recover & Follow-Up Care
Because endometrial ablation does not require any incisions, recovery time is usually short. With any method used, there are some similar after-effects which may occur.
You may experience menstrual-type cramps for a few days, but they should be manageable with over-the-counter medications. A watery discharge mixed with blood may be present for a few days after ablation. You may need to urinate frequently for the first 24 hours.
The final results may take a few months, but endometrial ablation often dramatically reduces the amount of blood lost during menstruation. Your periods should lighten and may stop entirely.
Is Endometrial Ablation Right for Me?
The choice to have endometrial ablation should be carefully considered. Your doctor will discuss all the benefits and risks with you, answer any questions, and help you make the right decision for your life and health.
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