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 medicine).
Talk to your doctor about your plans for having a baby. This procedure decreases your chance of pregnancy.
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:
InfectionBleedingComplications related to anesthesiaUterine perforation or organ injuryEdema (swelling) due to fluid leakage and absorptionThermal (heat) injury to the vagina, vulva, or bowel
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Pregnancy or possible pregnancy—procedure should not be done if there is a chance that you are pregnant
pelvic inflammatory disease
(PID)—may trigger a recurrence of PID
Inflammation of the cervix
Being overweight or
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Prior to the procedure, your doctor will likely:
of your uterus to check for abnormalities and understand the shape and size of your uterus.
Your medical historyMedicines or herbs and supplements you takeAny allergies you haveWhether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnantIf you have an intrauterine device (IUD)
Before the procedure, you may need to:
Ask your doctor about your options. There are many types of endometrial ablation.
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg,
Blood thinners, such as
Take medicine to thin the lining of the uterus.Arrange for someone to drive you home from the care center. You may also need help at home.
The day before the procedure:
Have a light dinner.The night before, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
There are three anesthesia options for ablation:
—blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the procedure
—blocks pain in an area of the body but you stay awake through the procedure, given as an injection
Local anesthesia—just the area that is being operated on is numbed, given as an injection
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 often be done in a 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:
Radiofrequency (heat and energy)Cryoablation (freezing temperature)Heated fluidHeated balloonMicrowave energyElectrosurgery (uses electrical current and a heated rollerball or spiked ball)—may require general anesthesia
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 will 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 medicine.
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, you may receive the following care:
Check blood pressure, heart rate, and breathingCheck on your fluid status and the electrolytes in your blood
Your doctor will ask you how you feel and make sure you are well enough to go home.
After the procedure, you may:
Feel cramping for 1-2 daysHave a heavy discharge for 2-3 daysHave a watery, bloody discharge for a few weeksNeed to go to the bathroom a lot for the first day and have some nausea
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Make sure you have a supply of sanitary pads at home.
You should be able to return to normal activities within a day or two. Ask your doctor when you can:
ExerciseResume sexual activityUse tamponsShower, bathe, or soak in water
Since you still have your sexual organs, you will need to:
Use birth control to prevent pregnancy
Pap testsHave pelvic exams
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Heavy vaginal bleedingSevere abdominal cramping and pelvic painSevere pain during sexSevere low back painPain during bowel movements or urinationSigns of infection, including fever and chillsNausea and vomitingCough, chest pain, or shortness of breathDizziness or lightheadednessPain or tenderness in the calf or legMenstruation does not get lighter after 2-3 periods
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Endometrial Ablation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice bulletin. No. 81, May 2007.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.