One of the most prevalent gynecological complaints among women of childbearing age is heavy menstrual (HMB). When it’s “that time of the month” and you cringe because you know you are going to have to endure days of heavy bleeding, you are one among many women who suffer from this condition. There are many causes for (HMB); depending on the cause, there are also many treatments for it as well, some of which, under certain circumstances, are endometrial ablations.
What are Endometrial Ablations?
These are procedures which ablate or destroy the uterine lining. Women who experience unusually heavy periods may be candidates for one of these procedures. No incisions are required since the process uses the passageway between the vagina and uterus. It is carried out by using slender instruments to ablate (destroy) the endometrium or lining of the uterus. Endometrial ablations reduce the menstrual flow and, in some cases, may cause it to stop altogether.
How is the Procedure Performed?
There are a variety of methods for performing endometrial ablations. Balloon therapy uses a balloon placed on the end of a catheter, which is inserted into the uterus and filled with liquid heated to a temperature which destroys the lining. The hydrothermal procedure also uses heated liquids, however, these are pumped into the uterus. Electrocautery uses an electric current. The tool is placed on the lining, cauterizing it. Radio frequency ablation, or high energy radio waves, use an electrical current produced by radio waves to destroy the endometrium. The lining can also be frozen through cryoablation, or destroyed with microwaves.
The Risks Involved with Endometrial Ablations
It is critical you give your doctor a complete gynecological health history if you are considering endometrial ablation. As with any medical procedure such as this, there are some risks involved.
During normal a normal menstrual cycle, the endometrium will become engorged with blood in preparation for the implantation of an egg. When the implantation does not happen, the endometrium lining is shed. With endometrial ablations, the uterine lining is permanently scarred so that it cannot build up, therefore, there is no lining to shed.
With the destruction of the uterine lining some women may experience a condition called hematometra. In this situation, blood continues to accumulate as the uterus continues to function normally, however there is now no endometrial lining to be built up. The uterus then remains engorged. This can cause a heavy or full feeling which, after a few months can lead to constant, severe pain. Sometimes, the accumulation of blood backs up into the fallopian tubes, which is also painful.
Other risks involved with this process include possible perforation of the uterus. There is the additional risk of possible perforation of the bowel or bladder. Infection is another problem that must be considered. Thermal injuries have occurred in some endometrial ablations. Some women have experienced hemorrhaging as well. There is also the chance the endometrium could thicken as a result of the procedure, causing endometrial hyperplasia.
Adverse symptoms created by endometrial ablations have resulted in some women opting for a hysterectomy within the first five years of having the procedure. Approximately one third of those who have this procedure eventually have a hysterectomy due to pain or discomfort.
We are concerned for each patient’s overall health at Cypress Women’s Center. If you suffer from HMB, we will work with you to find the cause and the best solution. Contact us today for all your female health needs. We look forward to helping you reach your optimum health.