If you experience heavy periods, your gynecologist may have mentioned endometrial ablation to you as a potential treatment. There are two procedures – endometrial ablation and endometrial resection – that can be used to treat heavy menstrual flow. Both of these procedures are described below.
What constitutes excessive bleeding?
Menstrual periods should last between four and seven days, occurring once every 28 days (though a normal menstrual cycle can range between 21 and 35 days). Examples of excessive bleeding may include:
- Periods that occur less than 21 days apart.
- Periods that last longer than seven days.
- Bleeding or spotting after menopause, after sex, or between periods.
What are the causes of heavy menstrual flow?
Heavy menstrual flow (which your physician may have referred to as menorrhagia) may be characterized by abnormally heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding, or both. There are a number of conditions that can cause heavy bleeding. These include:
- Hormone imbalance can cause excessive endometrium buildup, which causes excessive bleeding during the menstrual period.
- Uterine fibroids and polyps can cause excessive bleeding or longer periods.
- Intrauterine devices (IUD) can cause excessive bleeding in some women.
- Medications, especially anti-inflammatory drugs and anticoagulants, are sometimes a contributing factor in heavy bleeding.
- Cancer is a rare cause of excessive bleeding.
What You Need to Know About Endometrial Ablation & Resection
Endometrial ablation and endometrial resection are two of many treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Endometrial ablation may use a heated saline solution in the uterus to remove the lining. Other methods use extreme cold or radiofrequency.
- Endometrial resection uses a controlled electrical charge to remove the uterine lining.
Both of these procedures are very brief, oftentimes done using a local anesthesia. (Sometimes, general anesthesia is necessary.) The procedures can be done in your physician’s office and have minimal recovery and discomfort. After a brief recovery period, menstrual flow should be noticeably lighter if not altogether stopped. Most women return to their normal activities the following day, and experience few side effects. Consult your surgeon for restrictions. (Please note: endometrial ablation is not for everyone. A woman should not become pregnant after an ablation. This procedure is not a form of birth control or sterilization.)