Deanna M. Neff, MPH
This procedure involves the surgical removal of the lining of the uterus (womb). It may involve using heat, cold temperatures, microwave energy, or other methods.
Endometrial ablation will likely make menstrual flow lighter. In some cases, it stops menstrual flow completely. The procedure is used to treat
—recurrent heavy periods not controlled by medication.
Talk to your doctor about your plans for having a baby. This procedure should not be done if you have plans to become pregnant in the future.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have endometrial ablation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
If you have a history of painful periods or tubal sterilization, you may also be at risk for developing new or worsening pain after this procedure.
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
The following may also increase your risk of complications:
Prior to the procedure, your doctor will likely:
Before the procedure, you may need to:
The day before the procedure:
There are 3 anesthesia options for ablation:
Your doctor will help you decide which one is right for you.
There are many different ways for the doctor to do this procedure. A simple ablation procedure is short. It can sometimes be done in an office or care center. Other procedures take longer and need to be done in a hospital.
During the procedure, the doctor will not make any incisions to access the uterus. A tiny probe will be inserted through the vagina and into the uterine cavity through the cervix. Depending on the method, the tip of the probe will expand to deliver:
These methods will destroy the cells lining the uterine cavity. You will not feel pain. Often, ultrasound is used to help guide the doctor. Suction may be used to remove the tissue that has been destroyed.
This depends on the type of method. It can take 15-45 minutes or longer.
You may feel cramping and discomfort. Your doctor will give you pain medication.
This is usually done on an outpatient basis. You may need to stay there for 1-2 hours. Some methods may require an overnight hospital stay.
While recovering, the hospital staff may:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Your doctor will ask you how you feel and make sure you are well enough to go home.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Canadian Women’s Health Network
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of
Endometrial ablation. AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at:
http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=10918&nbr=5698&ss=6&xl=999. Updated May 2007. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Endometrial Ablation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice bulletin. No. 81, May 2007.
Endometrial ablation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometrial-Ablation. Published April 2013. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Heavy menstrual bleeding. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence website. Available at:
http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG44NICEGuideline.pdf. Published January 2007. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Lethaby A, Hickey M, et al. Endometrial destruction techniques for heavy menstrual bleeding. Cochrane Collection website. Available at:
http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab001501.html. Updated August 23, 2005. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Patient fact sheet: endometrial ablation. American Society for Reproductive Medicine website. Available at:
http://www.asrm.org/FACTSHEET_Endometrial_Ablation/. Updated 2011. Accessed October 7, 2015.
4/6/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wishall KM, Price J, et al. Postablation risk factors for pain and subsequent hysterectomy. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Nov; 124(5):904-910.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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