Every month, the endometrium or the lining of the uterus is shed off in the course of menstruation. Some women bleed longer than the others. For this specific group of women, the endometrial ablation treatment can be beneficial to them. The endometrial ablation process simply treats the endometrium in order to halt the bleeding. This treatment does not in any way remove the uterus and this treatment also in no way disturbs the hormone levels of women.
It is but normal for women to bleed, especially during menstruation. Some women though suffer from excessive bleeding. When excessive bleeding happens, women are initially treated with medication. In cases when the bleeding cannot be controlled by medication, the alternative can be endometrial ablation. What this treatment does is that it destroys the thin lining of the uterus, thereby stopping the menstruation of most women. Two common endometrial ablation procedures are the NovaSure and ThermaChoice. Both procedures destroy the inner lining of the uterus. Your doctor can best guide you in deciding which procedure is indicated for your particular situation. In some cases though the menstruation is not stopped but is only restored to the normal level or to lighter levels. If heavy bleeding is not controlled by ablation, then further treatment, specifically surgery is needed by a Houston Gynecologist.
As endometrial ablation affects the menstrual flow, this treatment is not advisable for women who are past menopause. This treatment is also not advisable to women with the following medical conditions:
- Recent pregnancy
- Endometrial hyperplasia
- Cancer of the uterus
- Endometrium or disorders of the uterus (for instance, the endometrium is extra thin)
- Recent or current infection of the uterus
The blatant effect of ablation is that after this procedure, it is extremely difficult to become pregnant. For those who want to have a baby still, this procedure is not recommended. In some cases though, after ablation, pregnancy can still take place. In this situation, the risk of miscarriage and additional problems are increased.
For women who have undergone endometrial ablation, it is still advisable to use birth control until after menopause or opt for sterilization to avert pregnancy. As the woman retains all her reproductive organs even after ablation, routine pap tests and pelvic exams are still required.
Before the Procedure
This procedure can only proceed with your consent and the advice of your doctor. You will be made aware of the treatment’s benefits, as well as its risks. Prior to the actual treatment, a sample of the lining of the uterus will be extracted to make sure that you do not have a cancer. This process is called endometrial biopsy. Prior to the procedure also, the following tests are required to determine whether the uterus is of the correct shape and size for the treatment:
Hysteroscopy: To look into the inner part of the uterus using a slender, light-transmitting telescope called a hysteroscope.
Ultrasonography: This utilizes sound waves to look into the pelvic organs.
Removal of an intrauterine device (IUD) is needed prior to the procedure. If you are pregnant, this procedure will not take place.
Ablation procedure is a short one. Some methods are conducted as outpatient surgery, which means that you can go home the same day the procedure is conducted. Recovery time is dependent on the type of pain relief used. In some instances, recovery takes only 2 hours. Some ablation methods can even be conducted inside the doctor’s office. Prior to the procedure, it is possible that your cervix will be dilated. The dilation process is done with medication. The ablation procedure does not involve incisions or cuts.
After the Procedure
Listed below are some of the common minor side effects after the endometrial ablation procedure:
- Cramping similar to menstrual cramps for 1-2 days
- For a few weeks after the procedure, thin, watery discharge mixed with blood can be observed
- Frequent urination for 24 hours
After the procedure, inquire from your doctor when can you resume your exercise, use tampons or have sex. In many cases, normal activities can be resumed within a day or two. A regular visit to the doctor is required to check on your progress. Full effects of the procedure may take several months.
With ablation procedure, there is a tiny risk of bleeding and infection. There is also a risk that the device used may pass through the uterine wall or bowel. In some methods, there is a risk of burns to the vulva, vagina and bowel. In some cases, the fluid used to expand your uterus during electrosurgery can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This particular situation is a serious one. To prevent this situation from happening, the fluid level used is meticulously checked during the whole procedure.