What is an endometrial ablation?
An endometrial ablation is an operation to remove the lining (endometrium) of the womb (uterus). The most common reason for having an endometrial ablation is to get relief from the symptoms of heavy periods.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Most women will experience a noticeable reduction in their periods and, in some cases, periods stop altogether.
An endometrial ablation has fewer complications and a quicker recovery time than a hysterectomy.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Heavy periods can be treated using a variety of non-hormonal and hormonal oral medications. Other alternatives include a hormonal coil that fits in the uterus.
What does the operation involve?
An endometrial ablation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about half an hour.
Your gynaecologist will pass a hysteroscope (telescope with operating instruments) through your vagina and cervix into the cavity of your womb and pass fluid through the telescope to swell the womb (see figure 1). They will use electricity or laser energy to remove the lining of your womb and any polyps or small fibroids they find.
What complications can happen?
General complications of any operation:
- Sickness or feeling sick
- Bleeding or discharge
- Blood clots
Specific early complications of this operation:
- Bleeding during the procedure
- Fluid overload
- Making a hole in the womb
- Failed procedure
Specific late complications of this operation:
- Continued bleeding or pain
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day.
You should be able to return to normal activities after two to four days. Most women are fit for work after about a week.
You should expect to have some bleeding or discharge for up to six weeks after the operation. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Will I still be able to have children?
The operation is not recommended for women who still want children.
However, even if your periods stop, there is still a risk of you becoming pregnant.
An endometrial ablation is a commonly-performed gynaecological operation to relieve the symptoms of heavy periods. If the operation is successful, you should have less bleeding and pain.
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
Paying for your operation
Endometrial ablation costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
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The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.