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Endometrial Ablation

Front view cross section of uterus showing catheter inserted through vagina and ablation balloon inside uterus.
Destroying the lining with heat, freezing, or electric current prevents the lining from growing back.
Endometrial ablation is an outpatient surgery that can reduce or stop heavy menstrual bleeding. Ablation destroys the lining of the uterus. This surgery is for women who do not want to have any more children and who have not yet entered menopause. It should not be used by women with endometrial hyperplasia or cancer of the uterus. Surgery takes less than an hour, and you can go home later that day.

Preparing for surgery

  • You may be given medicine by mouth or injection for a few weeks or months before your surgery. This thins the lining of the uterus and reduces bleeding.

  • Your healthcare provider may recommend other procedures to check the inside of your uterus before the ablation is done. 

  • The day before surgery, you may be given medicine or a special substance (laminaria) may be put into the opening to the uterus (cervix). This widens the opening.

  • To help prevent problems with anesthesia, do not eat or drink anything 10 hours before surgery.

Your surgery

  • You’ll be given anesthesia so you stay comfortable and relaxed. You will not feel pain during surgery.

  • Your uterus may be filled with fluid. This puts pressure on the lining to help reduce bleeding. It also allows your healthcare provider to see inside your uterus.

  • Your healthcare provider puts a small telescope-like instrument through the cervix. This scope may be connected to a video monitor. This helps your healthcare provider see and control the ablation process. At the end of the scope, a device using heat, extreme cold, or electric current destroys the uterine lining. Instead of the scope, your healthcare provider may use another device that both expands and destroys the uterine lining. After being inserted into your uterus, it also uses heat or other energy to destroy the lining. Your healthcare provider will choose the device that’s best for you.

Your recovery

  • You may have cramping or aching in your abdomen after surgery. Your healthcare provider can give you pain medicine.

  • You may also have a bloody or watery discharge or bleeding for days or weeks. Use sanitary pads, not tampons.

  • Don’t have sex or play active sports for 2 weeks after surgery.

  • You can likely return to work in 2 days.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about using contraception after an ablation.

  • Your healthcare provider will see you in about 6 weeks to check how well you are healing.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following after surgery:

  • Chills

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Frequent urination for 24 hours

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

  • Nausea

  • Persistent or increased abdominal pain

  • Shortness of breath

Online Medical Reviewer: Burd, Irina, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Goode, Paula, RN, BSN, MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2017
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