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What is Involved in Uterine Ablation?

written by: Emma Lloyd • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 10/28/2011

Uterine ablation is a procedure that a woman may undergo if she repeatedly experiences prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding.

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    About the Procedure

    Uterine ablation is a medical technique that removes the endometrial lining of the uterus. This procedure is most often used as a treatment for women who routinely have prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding, but do not want to have a hysterectomy (or cannot for medical reasons). This procedure is also called endometrial ablation.

    Most women who decide to undergo this procedure will already have tried using medication to control heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, but have found that medication isn’t effective. The ablation can be carried out using a number of slightly different methods, but all involve the removal or destruction of the endometrial layer of the uterus.

    It should be noted that while this procedure cannot prevent pregnancy reliably and is not a substitute for birth control, some women who have the procedure find their ability to conceive is either temporarily or permanently impaired. In addition, women who become pregnant after uterine ablation are more likely to experience a miscarriage. For these reasons, women who want to become pregnant in the future aren’t encouraged to undergo the procedure.

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    Preparation and Recovery

    Uterine ablation is an outpatient procedure, and won’t require you do any special preparation, although your doctor will probably ask you not to eat for several hours prior to the procedure. However, if you are wearing an intrauterine device, it must be removed before the procedure can be carried out. In addition, if you are pregnant you cannot undergo this procedure. Finally, women who have uterine or endometrial disorders, a uterine infection, uterine cancer, or have recently been pregnant, are usually discouraged from undergoing an ablation.

    Ablation is usually a quick procedure, done as an outpatient surgery at a hospital. Some women, depending on the type of procedure they have access to, may be able to have it performed at their doctor’s office. No incisions are made during the procedure, and recovery is usually swift, with pain medication needed only for a day or two. Common side effects include a day or two of cramping, nausea and frequent urination. Some women may also have a thin, watery discharge, which may be mixed with blood, for several days following uterine ablation.