Endometrial Ablation: Can This Procedure Help Heavy Bleeding?
Posted byChristine Yu
While you may feel like you’re the only one with a finicky period, heavy menstrual cycles are no joke. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five women is affected by abnormal uterine bleeding at some point in her life.1
Not only does heavy and irregular menstrual cycles cause physical havoc, they can have an emotional toll too. What can you do to manage your heavy bleeding? Is a hysterectomy your only choice?
Fortunately, no. Endometrial ablation is a safe and effective treatment for abnormal uterine bleeding and an alternative to a hysterectomy. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure.
What Is Endometrial Ablation?
While it sounds complicated, it’s actually a fairly straight-forward procedure.
The procedure removes (aka ablates) a thin layer of the uterus (the endometrium) that you shed during your menstrual cycle and causes heavy bleeding. For many women, without this layer, they’ll experience lighter bleeding. For others, they may no longer experience monthly bleeding at all. The final results may take a few months to set in.2
Hologic, the sponsor of this blog, offers the following procedures as a treatment option. There are several endometrial ablation treatment options, including the NovaSure procedure, which has been available since 2001. This treatment method uses radio frequency. Your doctor will dilate your cervix and insert a probe that extends a mesh-like net into your uterus. This net delivers a specific radio frequency for 90 seconds. Then the probe is removed.3
The best part? Your doctor can perform the NovaSure procedure in his or her office, typically in a few minutes, so it doesn’t require a hospital stay. Plus, the shorter recovery time compared to a hysterectomy means fewer work days lost. It also leaves your uterus and reproductive organs intact.
Who Is It For?
If you are premenopausal, experience irregular bleeding and less invasive treatments like medication, hormone therapy or an IUD haven’t helped, this may be a treatment option for you. Endometrial ablation is an option for those who don’t plan on having children.4
If you’re postmenopausal, have a current or recent genital, urinary or pelvic infection, or have other abnormalities of the uterus, you’re not a good candidate for the procedure.
What Are the Side Effects?
After your procedure, you’ll likely experience menstrual-like cramping for a few days. Don’t be alarmed by watery discharge that may be mixed with blood, which may initially be heavy after the procedure. Other side effects may include nausea and frequent trips to the bathroom, especially in the first 24 hours.5 There is a small risk of infection, thermal injury and perforation.3
Because the procedure is not sterilization, you should still use contraception until menopause to prevent pregnancy. Continue with your routine cancer screenings and pelvic exams.
If you experience abnormal bleeding, a hysterectomy isn’t your only option. Talk to your doctor about treatment alternatives and if endometrial ablation may be the right fit for you and your lifestyle needs.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood disorders in women: heavy menstrual bleeding. Accessed January 4, 2017. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html.
2Mayo Clinic. Tests and Procedures: Endometrial Ablation, Sept 16, 2015. Accessed December 31, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/endometrial-ablation/basics/results/prc-20014190.
3NovaSure. What is NovaSure Endometrial Ablation? Accessed December 31, 2016. http://www.novasure.com/patients/what-novasure-endometrial-ablation.
4The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Frequently Asked Questions – Special Procedures: Endometrial Ablation. Accessed December 31, 2016. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometrial-Ablation.
5Mayo Clinic. Tests and Procedures: Endometrial Ablation, Sept 16, 2015. Accessed January 31, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/endometrial-ablation/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20014190.
- Posted by Christine Yu
- On April 6, 2017