Endometrial ablation is a procedure that uses heat, cold or different types of energy to destroy the tissue that lines your uterus so that you bleed less during your periods. Heavy periods happen for lots of reasons. There are different methods used for endometrial ablation, but they all involve destroying a layer of tissue that surrounds your uterus. When it’s time for your period, you’ll bleed less because you’ll have less of your uterus lining to shed.
Endometrial ablation is a procedure that uses heat, cold or different types of energy to destroy the lining of the uterus. If heavy periods are a problem, your doctor may recommend an endometrial ablation as an option to treat them. It’s less dangerous and has fewer limitations than a hysterectomy. However, many patients try medications to control their bleeding before having an endometrial ablation. After an endometrial ablation, you may have no bleeding, less bleeding or no change in your bleeding during your periods.
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Periods are considered heavy if they:
Endometrial ablation can help control heavy periods when medications don’t provide relief. You may be a candidate for endometrial ablation if:
Endometrial ablation isn’t for everyone. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your bleeding and determine if endometrial ablation is an option for you. Generally, you shouldn’t have an endometrial ablation if:
Additionally, some people with fibroids or who’ve had certain surgeries on their uterus are not able to have an endometrial ablation.
Your healthcare provider will make sure that endometrial ablation is the right procedure to reduce your bleeding. During this evaluation:
You’ll prepare for the day of your endometrial ablation.
An endometrial ablation may be done in the office or in the operating room. You’ll be given a gown and an IV. You’ll situate yourself on a table as if you’re having a pelvic exam. You may be given medicine about an hour before the endometrial ablation to help manage any discomfort after the procedure. Depending on the type of endometrial ablation, your provider may numb your pelvic area and give you sedatives so that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
During endometrial ablation, your healthcare provider inserts a delicate, wand-like device into your vagina. This device extends through your cervix and into your uterus, where it can reach the lining. Depending on the type of endometrial ablation, the device sends energy, heat or cold to destroy part of the lining. The technology makes things quick and you should have minimal or no discomfort during the procedure.
There are different types of endometrial ablation, but they all involve destroying the lining of your uterus.
Have a friend or family member drive you home. Pay close attention to your body. You’ll probably notice some changes after you’ve had the endometrial ablation. They’re normal, so there’s no need to worry.
Give yourself time to heal. Don’t douche or use a tampon the first 3 days after you’ve had the procedure.
Endometrial ablation can stop heavy bleeding without having to take medicine every day. It’s a common procedure. Still, the procedure does destroy tissue, which means it has risks:
The technology that turns healthy tissue into scar tissue is designed to be precise, though, so that only a safe portion of the uterus lining actually gets destroyed.
People who have experienced menopause or are high-risk for endometrial cancer shouldn’t have this procedure. After menopause, the risks for developing endometrial cancer increase. Destroying endometrial tissue makes it harder to find cancer cells in the uterus. The risk of missing cancer cells outweighs the benefits of lighter periods.
Endometrial ablation won’t make you gain or lose weight.
It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Nothing should go in your vagina for a few days.
Your periods will be lighter than they were before. Or, you may no longer have a period. Be sure to monitor how heavy your periods are and how regularly they occur.
Getting pregnant is dangerous for you or the baby after an endometrial ablation. You’ll still ovulate (put out eggs) and you can get pregnant. You’ll have some remaining uterus lining, which means that an egg can implant and be fertilized. Following endometrial ablation, you have a higher chance of a miscarriage or dangerous complications during pregnancy. This is why it’s so important to use birth control after the procedure. Some people choose to get sterilized (tubal ligation) when they have an endometrial ablation.
You should feel like your normal self within two to three days, and you should be able to carry on with your routine. Within two to three months, you’ll notice that your periods are lighter. You may even stop having periods altogether.
Monitor your recovery. Call your provider if you have symptoms that give you pause, such as:
If you’re still having heavy periods or spotting after two to three months, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to check on your recovery.
Make sure to keep any appointments your provider recommends after your endometrial ablation.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Heavy periods are uncomfortable. They may also be a sign that something is wrong. There are many treatments for heavy period, including endometrial ablation. Endometrial ablation may be an option that can reduce your bleeding so that it doesn’t get in the way of your life. If you’re having heavy periods, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss what treatment is best for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/08/2021.
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