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Endometrial Ablation

The lining of the uterus — the endometrium — is shed by bleeding each month during a woman's menstrual period. Sometimes the bleeding is too much or too long and treatment is needed.

Heavy Bleeding
One in five women has heavy bleeding at some point during her childbearing years. Heavy bleeding is most common for women between ages 40 and 50, as they approach menopause.

Losing too much blood can lead to anemia (lack of iron in the blood).

About Ablation
Ablation destroys a thin layer of the lining of the uterus. This stops all menstrual flow in many women.

Most women are not able to get pregnant after ablation.

A woman who has had ablation still has all her reproductive organs in place. Because of this, routine Pap tests and pelvic exams are still needed after ablation.

Before the Procedure
You will talk with your doctor and have a number of tests before the procedure is done. The tests may include:

  • Hysteroscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • Endometrial biopsy

The Procedure
Ablation is a short procedure. It is done as outpatient surgery in most cases. This means you can go home the same day.

Your doctor will use one of a number of types of energy to burn away the uterine lining.

A loop or rollerball tool can be used to destroy the thin inner lining of the uterus.

A laser device burns the lining using a high-intensity light beam.

With thermal ablation, a device or fluid is inserted into your uterus. Heat and energy are applied to increase the temperature and destroy the lining.

There is some risk involved with many procedures. Most problems result from pain medication, blood loss or infection.

The ablation procedure has certain risks. The device used may pass through the uterine wall or bowel. Rarely, the fluid used to expand your uterus may be absorbed into your bloodstream.

After the Procedure
Some minor side effects are common after endometrial ablation:

  • Cramping
  • Small amount of thin, watery discharge
  • Frequent urination for 24 hours
  • Nausea

Finally …
Endometrial ablation works well for many women. If other treatments have not worked, endometrial ablation may be an option for a woman who does not wish to become pregnant.

This excerpt from ACOG's Patient Education Pamphlet is provided for your information. It is not medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for visiting your doctor. If you need medical care, have any questions, or wish to receive the full text of this Patient Education Pamphlet, please contact your obstetrician-gynecologist.

To ensure the information is current and accurate, ACOG titles are reviewed every 18 months.

Copyright © May 2000 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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