Significant bleeding during periods can leave you at risk of anaemia. Doctors may recommend endometrial ablation surgery (removing the lining of your womb) if other treatments for heavy periods have failed.
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but rarely requires an overnight hospital stay.
Heavy periods are not just difficult to manage from a psychological and practical perspective.
Losing a significant amount of blood on a monthly basis (menorrhagia) can affect your physical health. It may reduce the number of red blood cells in your bloodstream, leading to anaemia and its symptoms of tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell.
Your doctors may recommend endometrial ablation surgery if other treatments, including medication, have not eased your periods and the level of bleeding.
Your expert consultant might use a variety of techniques to destroy (ablate) part of the womb lining (or endometrium).
It is likely that you will be able to go home on the same day.
However the procedure probably won't be recommended for you if your excessive bleeding is caused by fibroids (growths in your womb) or if you may want to have children in the future.
The procedure generally takes around 30 minutes and is usually conducted under a general anaesthetic (so you will be asleep). Most techniques involve inserting a thin telescope through the vagina and into the cervix to give your consultant a view of the womb. He or she uses surgical instruments to destroy or remove the womb lining.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We will discuss the range of methods available for removing the womb lining and whether you’ll have a general or local anaesthetic. Depending on your age and circumstances, they’ll also talk to you about your future family plans, if you have any.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having any medical procedure, even a relatively straightforward like this one, can cause anxiety. Our experienced and dedicated medical staff will be there to reassure you throughout.
It is likely that you will be asleep during surgery following a general anaesthetic. However some women, following discussions with their consultant, have a local anaesthetic. This means you are awake but do not feel any pain.
Your consultant will insert a hysterscope (a long thin telescope) through your vagina and into the cervix so they can see your womb. They’ll then use one of a range of small surgical instruments to destroy or remove the womb lining in a procedure typically lasting 30 minutes.
The methods include:
We also offer a fairly new technique, microwave endometrial ablation (MEA), which uses microwave heat to reduce the lining. It is quicker than the other methods and does not involve the hysteroscope. MEA can also be carried out with just a local anaesthetic.
You can probably go home on the same day as your operation but you’ll need a friend or relative to collect you, because you’ll be feeling drowsy after the anaesthetic.
If you are required to stay at the hospital, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
You will have some period-like abdominal pain for 24 to 48 hours after your operation. Ordinary over the counter painkillers should be enough to control the pain.
You will usually have vaginal bleeding for a few days but this should lessen and become a heavy discharge. This may last three to four weeks. Use sanitary towels rather than tampons to reduce the risk of infection.
We advise that you do not have sex until any vaginal bleeding or discharge has stopped.
You’ll probably feel up to work again after a few days but that depends on your job – you might need longer if you do physically demanding work.
More than a third of women who have this operation stop having periods. Others find that their periods become lighter. It can take up to three months to see whether the operation has been successful. Some women need to have the procedure repeated.
You will need a friend or relative to collect you from the hospital. You may continue to feel a bit tired for several days so it would be good if someone could help you with essential chores and shopping.
Even once you’ve left hospital, we’re still here for you.
On rare occasions, complications following treatment can occur. If you experience severe pain in your lower abdomen or heavy bleeding, please call us straight away.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
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