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This is the surgical removal of the lining of the uterus (womb). It may involve using heat, cold temperatures, microwave energy, or other methods.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Prior to the procedure, your doctor will likely:
- Do an endometrial biopsy , ultrasound , or hysteroscopy of your uterus to check for abnormalities and understand the shape and size of your uterus.
- Ask about:
- Your medical history
- Medicines or herbs and supplements you take
- Any allergies you have
- Whether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
- If 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, aspirin )
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- 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.
- Try to quit smoking.
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:
- General anesthesia —blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the procedure
- Regional anesthesia —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.
Description of the Procedure
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 fluid
- Heated balloon
- Microwave energy
- Electrosurgery (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.
How Long Will It Take?
This depends on the type of method. It can take 15-45 minutes or longer.
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel cramping and discomfort. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
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.
At the Care Center or Hospital
While recovering, you may receive the following care:
- Check blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing
- Check 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 days
- Have a heavy discharge for 2-3 days
- Have a watery, bloody discharge for a few weeks
- Need 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:
- Resume sexual activity
- Use tampons
- Since you still have your sexual organs, you will need to:
- Use birth control to prevent pregnancy
- Have routine Pap tests
- Have pelvic exams
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Canadian Women’s Health Network
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
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