When a woman has heavy or long periods, it can be exhausting, resulting in losing family time and work time. It can also be the source of health issues, such as anemia. Sometimes, when medications aren’t effective, excessive menstrual bleeding can be reduced through a procedure called endometrial ablation. The goal of endometrial ablation is to destroy the lining of the uterus, which reduces menstrual bleeding dramatically. However, only women who are done having children should have this procedure, because it can also affect fertility.
Causes of Heavy Periods
Heavy, extended periods can be caused by various conditions, some of which can be relieved by endometrial ablation. If you have heavy periods, it’s important to learn why that is occurring. Your OBGYN will help diagnose your issue and present options for treatment. Medication is often the first step in reducing heavy bleeding. If it continues despite the prescribed medication, and no other conditions prevent its use, endometrial ablation may be the best option, as it is non-invasive, keeping the uterus intact.
Read other blog posts about heavy periods.
What is Endometrial Ablation?
Ablation sounds like a scary word, but it means “to take away or destroy”. Endometrial ablation removes a thin lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium. The procedure can be done with cold, heat, or energy as a means of destroying the uterine lining. The whole procedure only takes a few minutes and can be performed in the West Des Moines OBGYN Associates office.
Advantages Over Hysterectomy
Endometrial ablation is an alternative to hysterectomy that does not require incisions or general anesthesia. The procedure is less invasive than a hysterectomy as the uterus remains in place. It only removes a very thin layer inside the uterus, resulting in lighter, shorter, or no periods.
It is not without risk. It is only recommended for women who have had all the children they would like. Women should be aware that they can still get pregnant after the procedure, although it is very unlikely. Getting pregnant following endometrial ablation can be dangerous. For that reason, a form of permanent contraception is required.
About the Procedure
The endometrial ablation procedure is simple and can be performed anytime during the menstrual cycle. Your gynecologist will go over the risks and benefits of the procedure with you to make sure you understand what is involved. The procedure may be done in the office under local anesthesia or the surgery center under general anesthesia. This is often based on any additional procedures that may be needed or up to the patient’s preference. Recovery is short and usually takes a couple of hours to a day. Side effects may include cramping, discharge, nausea, and vomiting, but these symptoms usually fade within a day. Anything more serious should be treated by a doctor, as it may indicate an infection or perforation of the uterine lining.
If you are done bearing children and have heavy periods or very long periods that affect your quality of life, endometrial ablation may be an option to consider. Learn more about this in-office procedure and contact us to make an appointment in West Des Moines, Indianola, or Ankeny.