Do your periods last longer or seem heavier than normal? Do they affect your daily activities? Do you sometimes require extra or double protection for normal daily activity? Endometrial ablation may offer a safe, quick, non-hormonal office-based treatment alternative.
Although hysterectomy is still the most common way to treat heavy vaginal bleeding from all causes, it is no longer the simplest or safest way for many women. Endometrial ablation is rapidly becoming standard treatment for this problem after hormonal treatment has failed or is no longer an option.
Endometrial ablation treats the uterine lining with heat (thermal ablation), cold (cryoablation), microwaves (microwave ablation), radio waves (electrosurgical ablation), or lasers (laser ablation). All have the same effect: the uterine lining becomes thin and scarred, resulting in little or no menstrual bleeding in approximately 65% of patients.
Like hysterectomy, ablation cannot be used in women who may want children in the future. It is not a sterilization procedure and pregnancy can be dangerous if it occurs after ablation. Unlike hysterectomy, endometrial ablation can be done in an office setting, with little or no recovery time required afterwards.
Endometrial ablation can also be used for some women whose bleeding is caused by fibroids or polyps, but cannot be used when cancer of the uterine lining is suspected. A sample of the uterine lining is always taken prior to ablation to exclude cancer or a precancerous condition.
Although complications from this procedure are very uncommon, some can be serious. In addition, endometrial ablation does not always solve the bleeding problem. Many women have no period at all after the procedure (about 50%), but some continue to bleed, although much less than before (about 40%). 5-10% of women who have the procedure will continue to bleed as heavily as before and ultimately require hysterectomy. Most studies have shown that up to 90% of women who have endometrial ablation are satisfied with the results a year later.