Endometrial ablation. What’s that?
If you suffer from heavy periods, they may be caused by the thickness of your womb lining (endometrium). Some women have thicker linings than other, which can cause heavy bleeding during your period. If you are not planning to have further children, the removal of this lining (endometrial ablation), may be a suitable way for treating heavy periods.
The womb lining (endometrium) and your period
Before we give you the ins and outs of potential treatments, it is useful to understand how the womb lining affects your periods. The womb lining consists of two layers: a layer that is always present (the basal layer), and a layer that forms over the basal layer (the functional layer). This functional layer develops over time and is then shed every month during your period. As you’ve probably guessed, if you have a thicker endometrium, you will generally have a heavier period or your periods may be more painful, longer and inevitably accompanied by mood swings.
Removing the endometrium (womb lining)
Endometrial ablation is a treatment to stop or reduce your period through the removal of the endometrium. During this procedure, the endometrium is removed for example with the aid of radio-frequency energy. It is always performed under local or general anaesthetic. During the treatment, a thin tube is inserted into the uterus. A mesh device is then inserted via the tube, and it subsequently unfolds and adapts to the shape of the uterus. The device gets hot and radio-frequency energy is directed at the endometrium for a maximum of two minutes. The endometrium dries and the device and tube are then removed from the uterus. Here you can read more about endometrial ablation.
Other treatments for stopping heavy bleeding
In addition to endometrial ablation, there are other treatments available for stopping or reducing heavy periods. It is important to understand the treatments, so that you have a clear idea of the options. Depending on your situation (for example, the cause of your heavy periods and whether you still wish to have children) you can choose a suitable treatment in consultation with your doctor or gynaecologist. Other treatments for reducing or stopping menstruation are:
- Hormone therapy: treatment with the pill or a coil;
- Non-hormonal therapy;
- Fibroid or polyp removal;
- Hysterectomy: removal of the womb.