Endometrial ablation is a surgical procedure that can be a very effective treatment for heavy periods. The procedure removes some of the tissue lining the womb so that less blood will be lost each month. After the operation, your periods should be lighter. In some cases, you may not have periods at all.
Endometrial ablation is a day case surgical procedure used in women who suffer from heavy menstrual periods and who have completed their family. Heavy periods can have a significant effect, both mentally and physically. If your periods are very painful, preventing you from doing everyday activities, or leaving you with anaemia, this treatment could help.
However, while endometrial ablation can be more effective than medication, it isn't suitable for everybody. The operation is less invasive than a hysterectomy, but it is still a surgical procedure. There are some risks involved, including the risk of infection or of damage to the womb. However, the benefits can be significant. Your doctor can help you to decide whether it is the right option for you.
The most important thing to consider is whether you might want to have children in the future. The lining of your womb will be destroyed if you go ahead with the procedure. It won't be safe for you to have a baby afterwards. If you might want to become pregnant in the future, your doctor might be able to recommend an alternative treatment.
Endometrial ablation is usually carried out as a day case procedure. You will need to go into hospital for the operation, but you should be able to go home the same day. You will just need to take it easy while you recover. The operation itself will take about 45 minutes. Although it is sometimes possible to have just a local anaesthetic, you will usually need to have a general anaesthetic. Several different techniques can be used for the ablation procedure.
Ablation is a procedure where the cells of the lining of the womb (Endometrium) are ablated or “burnt” off, preventing their re-growth. It can be performed by Laser beam (Laser thermal ablation) or heat (Thermal ablation). The thermal ablation can be achieved using Radiofrequency, a water filled balloon heated to 85°C (Thermal Balloon ablation), Freezing, Microwave, Normal heated saline or Electricity using an electrode or loop to burn off the cells under direct vision (TCRE).
The current best method is Balloon Thermal Ablation (Thermacoice). It is a procedure contraindicated in women who want to conceive. Additional contraception or sterilisation is advisable to ensure pregnancy does not occur after this procedure.
Most women will experience much lighter periods after the procedure. In some cases, you might stop having periods altogether. There is a very small chance that the treatment will not be successful or that your heavy periods will return once the womb lining heals. If this happens, you may need a second operation to ablate the lining using a different technique. You might also want to try another treatment, such as a hysterectomy.