An endometrial ablation operation offers women who are experiencing severe, monthly menstrual bleeding an alternative to hysterectomy surgery. The endometrial ablation procedure differs from a hysterectomy in that the uterus and ovaries remain intact, there is a shorter recovery time and there is no overnight hospital stay required. Women who have undergone an endometrial ablation operation often note that their uterine bleeding has greatly decreased or become nonexistent after the procedure, but there are a number of women who have reported complications and adverse reactions to the operation.
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What is an Endometrial Ablation?
The endometrial ablation operation destroys a thin portion of the outer layer of the uterus which can have a significant impacting on menstrual flow. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine there are several ways to perform an endometrial ablation, the most common being radiofrequency, hot fluid, microwave energy, freezing and electrosurgery (rollerball). The attending physician will decide which method is best suited for each individual patient and some procedures can be performed right in the gynecologist's office.
The First 24 Hours
Newton-Wellesley Hospital reports that for the first 24 hours following the endometrial ablation operation women may feel a bit groggy because of the anaesthesia that is administered. For this reason, it is necessary to have a friend or family member drive you home from the hospital or surgery facility. For most women, cramping will begin within the first 24 hours of surgery and continue for several days but ibuprofen can be used to dull the pain. A bloody discharge that is watery usually presents itself in the first 24 hours and lasts for several weeks.
Two to Four Weeks Post-Ablation
Most gynecologists request their patients to return for a follow-up visit within the first one to two weeks following an endometrial ablation operation. During this time, Meriter Health Services explains that it is normal for women to experience a heavier than normal amount of bleeding as the burnt tissue of the uterus is expelled. It is also recommended that women not engage in sexual intercourse or the use of tampons or a douche during this time due to an increased risk of infection. Also, showering is not recommended until four weeks post-ablation to reduce the risk of infection. Therefore, baths and a soak in the hot tub are out of the question.
The Months Following an Endometrial Ablation
During the months following an endometrial ablation Boston Scientific reports that some women may still experience heavy bleeding cycles. However, this is usually only temporary. In fact, once the healing process is over periods may cease altogether. Unfortunately for some women, an endometrial ablation operation fails to control heavy periods. When this happens, the gynecologist will often discuss the other treatment options that are available to help solve the problem. It is also important to note that there are symptoms to watch for during the months that follow ablation surgery that require medical assistance. If fever develops or if severe abdominal pain or hemorrhaging occurs a physician must be alerted as soon as possible.
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