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Endometrial Ablation Treatment Information
What to Expect
Your doctor will check the size, shape and health of your uterus before performing an ablation. If you have an IUD, it must be removed before the procedure.
Your doctor will take a biopsy of the lining of your uterus before the procedure to make sure you do not have cancer. He or she may also perform other tests to check the size and shape of your uterus and make sure ablation is an appropriate treatment. Possible tests include:
- Hysteroscopy. The doctor uses a thin telescope with a light (called a hysteroscope) to see the inside of the uterus.
- Ultrasonography. The doctor uses sound waves to create pictures of the pelvic organs.
Your doctor will talk with you about any medicines and supplements you take. You may need to stop taking medicines that reduce your blood’s ability to clot, including:
Talk with your doctor about the pain medicine that will be used during the ablation. You may receive general anesthesia or light sedation depending on which procedure you undergo.
Your cervix may be dilated before the procedure. Your doctor will use medicines or a series of rods to gradually increase its size. Talk with your doctor about what to expect.
Follow instructions from your doctor the night before your procedure. If you will receive general anesthesia, you likely will not be able to eat or drink after midnight.
On the day of the procedure:
- If your doctor prescribed medicine to open your cervix, take it as directed with a small sip of water.
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown after you arrive at the doctor’s office or hospital.
- A nurse or technologist will attach devices to your body to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure.
- This person may also insert an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm so that you can receive sedative medicine. The sedative will make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
- You may or may not remain awake during the procedure depending on how deeply you are sedated.
- If the cervix will be dilated manually, the doctor will use rods to expand the opening to the uterus.
- Once the cervix is dilated, the doctor will insert a tool called a hysteroscope into the uterus through the vagina and cervix.
- The hysteroscope sends images of the inside of the uterus to a video monitor.
- The doctor may use a gas or fluid to expand the uterus so he or she can better see the uterine lining.
- Small tools can be used through the hysteroscope to remove abnormal growths or tissue for examination. Depending on the type of ablation used, heat or electricity will be applied to destroy the endometrial lining.
If you receive general anesthesia, you will be moved to a recovery room after the procedure. A nurse will monitor your vital signs as you wake up. If you receive light sedation, you will relax in the doctor’s office until the sedation wears off. Recovery takes about two hours depending on the type of pain relief used.
You can expect frequent urination for 24 hours after the procedure. You may also experience nausea. Before you go home, your doctor will talk with you about when you can exercise, have sex or use tampons.
If the doctor took samples of uterine tissue during the ablation procedure, biopsy results will be available within one or two weeks.
Your doctor will share the results with you and talk to you about what they mean.
Once you are home, you should expect some minor side effects such as:
- Menstrual-like cramping for one or two days
- Watery discharge mixed with blood, which can last a few weeks
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about when you can exercise, have sex or use tampons. In most cases, you can return to work and your normal activities within a day or two.
Your regular menstrual bleeding should be much lighter after ablation, or menstruation may stop altogether.
Your doctor will schedule a follow-up visit about three months after the ablation procedure to check your progress. It can take several months to experience the full effects of ablation.
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