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Procedure Offers Remedy for 'Heavy' Periods
If you’re finished with childbearing and are experiencing abnormally heavy periods, endometrial ablation may be a good option for you.
Endometrial ablation is a procedure that surgically destroys the lining of your uterus to reduce menstrual flow. In some women, menstrual flow may stop completely. During the procedure, the doctor inserts slender tools through the opening between the vagina and cervix and uses one of several methods to ablate the endometrium. These methods can include extreme cold, heated fluids, microwave energy, or high-energy radiofrequencies.
“Endometrial ablation is an effective way to alleviate heavy bleeding without the severity of a hysterectomy,” explains Paul Itam, MD, FACOG, a board-certified Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “For some patients, menstrual bleeding may not stop, but it is often reduced to a much lighter level.”
The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, typically using a minimum of anesthesia. Recovery time is relatively quick, with some patients returning to work in less than a week.
Endometrial ablation is only for women who don’t wish to bear children in the future. "Becoming pregnant after having the procedure is highly unlikely," says Dr. Itam. "However, if pregnancy does occur, the risk of miscarriage and other problems are increased."
Pap screening and pelvic exams will continue to be needed for future well-woman exams.
"Since uncertainties exist with most medical procedures, it's important to speak with your doctor about the risks as well as the benefits of endometrial ablation," says Dr. Itam.
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