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An endometrial ablation refers to a procedure specifically done to remove the endometrium, a layer of tissue that lines the uterus. This layer of tissue can sometimes get in the way of a person’s ability to have normal periods, making it a suggested procedure when their menstrual cycle is getting in the way of their ability to perform their everyday activities without being in constant discomfort and/or pain. It is also an option for those who have been diagnosed with anemia, as this abnormal bleeding leads to a lower blood count. The procedure is only performed on patients who have decided to not have any more children.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if ablation does not control heavy bleeding, further treatment or surgery may be needed.
WHY AN ENDOMETRIAL ABLATION IS PERFORMED
An endometrial ablation is an option for people who experience severe bleeding during their menstrual cycle, as it can greatly minimize their flow or even stop it altogether. It all can also assist those who experience periods longer than the normal five to seven days, as well as those who experience bleeding in between their periods. Some of the more common reasons a person would experience abnormal bleeding issues include being diagnosed with fibroids or polyps and experiencing hormonal problems. It is also possible to experience abnormal bleeding due to having cancer in the endometrium or uterus.
It may not be possible for a patient to undergo the endometrial ablation procedure if they have experienced any of the following:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Cervical cancer, endometrial cancer or cancer of the uterus
- A recent pregnancy
- A current IUD (intrauterine device) inserted
- Surgery for fibroids
- A C-section
THE ENDOMETRIAL ABLATION PROCEDURE
The endometrial ablation process does not require any type of surgery to be performed, and instead, a gynecologist will use a special tool, which is inserted into the vagina. While the procedure will either minimize or stop the bleeding altogether, the fact that the procedure destroys the lining of the uterus means that the patient is no longer able to become pregnant. There are a few different methods a gynecologist can use when performing the procedure, with the one chosen dependent on each patient’s particular situation.
A list of endometrial ablation methods that can be used:
- Electrocautery: Requires the use of electricity placed directly on the endometrium, which works to destroy the lining
- Hydrothermal: Utilizes a special fluid that is heated to a certain degree and then placed into the uterus, which works to destroy the lining
- Radiofrequency ablation: High-energy radio waves are used to send an electrical current to an electrical mesh placed strategically in the uterus, which destroys the uterine lining
- Cryoablation: A gynecologist will use a special tool that can use extremely cold temperatures to freeze the uterine lining, essentially destroying it
- Microwave ablation: Requires the use of microwave energy to destroy the endometrium
- Balloon therapy: Utilizes a balloon catheter, which is filled up with a special fluid that is then heated up to a temperature that will destroy the uterine lining
The risks associated with an endometrial ablation include bleeding, infection, a tearing of the uterine wall and an overflow of fluid in the bloodstream.
THE RECOVERY PROCESS
The recovery process will depend on the type of procedure performed, as well as what type of anesthesia the patient received. Overall, patients can expect to experience some heavy cramping for one or two days, the need to urinate often for about one day, some nausea that will last about one day and a vaginal discharge that can last up to three weeks. It is important for patients to not use any tampons or douche products or have sexual intercourse for at least three days after the procedure has been performed. Because some pain medications can increase bleeding, it is important to only take medications recommended by the gynecologist.
DO YOU CURRENTLY EXPERIENCE SEVERE OR ABNORMAL BLEEDING?
Endometrial ablation is a procedure commonly used on those who experience severe bleeding during their menstruation, longer-than-normal periods or bleeding in between their menstrual cycle. When the menstrual cycle gets in the way of being able to perform everyday duties, it is time to look into potential options for correcting these menstrual problems. While having a complete hysterectomy is another option that can be performed to address menstrual problems, a hysterectomy requires major surgery, and many people are looking to avoid a surgical process if at all possible.