Many women experience a heavy period at some point. But if you regularly experience menstrual bleeding heavy enough to disrupt normal activities and affect your quality of life, your doctor may recommend endometrial ablation.
Here’s what you should know about the procedure:
What is endometrial ablation?
During this minimally invasive procedure, a thin probe applies some form of ablation (either heat, cold or another type of energy) that destroys the uterine lining, also called the endometrium. Endometrial ablation doesn’t stop periods altogether, but it typically reduces their severity and duration. This effect can last for years.
Who might need endometrial ablation?
Endometrial ablation is an option for those who experience particularly heavy menstrual periods with no underlying cause who are not helped by prescribed medication.
Heavy bleeding typically requires changing your pad or tampon every hour for several hours, wearing more than one pad at a time or using a pad and a tampon together. Your doctor may also recommend endometrial ablation as an option if your period regularly lasts one week or longer, if your period disrupts normal activities or if you have anemia due to blood loss.
Endometrial ablation is not recommended in some circumstances. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ablation should not be performed on women who were recently pregnant, are post-menopausal, have had endometrial hyperplasia or disorders related to the uterus or the uterine lining, have had uterine or endometrial cancer, and currently have or recently had a uterine infection.
Endometrial ablation is not recommended for women who hope to become pregnant, because the risk of miscarriage and other complications is much higher following ablation.
What to expect if you have an endometrial ablation.
If you decide to have an endometrial ablation, the procedure is fairly straight-forward.
Before you undergo the procedure, you’ll take a pregnancy test to confirm you are not pregnant. Your provider may order imaging tests to get a good look at your uterus, and you may be prescribed medication to thin the uterine lining.
On the day of the ablation, you’ll be positioned on an examination table like you are during a pelvic exam. A small probe will be inserted into the vagina and extended through the cervix to the uterus. The probe will then emit heat, cold or energy to destroy the lining.
You may be given medication to prevent pain during the procedure. In most cases, the procedure lasts only a few minutes and causes limited discomfort.
When you need relief from a women’s health issue, you can find it close to home. St. Elizabeth offers a full spectrum of services for women at all stages of life. Find a women’s health services provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.