What Can I Expect After An Endometrial Ablation? (Recovery, Complications & Possible Infection)

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Endometrial ablation is a minimally invasive procedure to thin the uterus lining or completely destroy it. After the procedure, there might be some expected after-effects, but you can go back to your daily activities in about a week. Some activities to avoid includes sex, using tampons, douching, swimming, and other water sports for a while. Eating a balanced diet and following the doctor’s instructions can be helpful in a faster recovery. There’s a risk of getting infected which can be recognized by looking at signs and symptoms of it. Talk with your medical advisor before getting the procedure done, and definitely go back if you see signs of infection. 

Endometrial ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that helps many women suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding. Although minimally invasive, this procedure destroys the uterine lining, which is helpful for those suffering. 

It does require some form of care and attention after the procedure is done, and it would help if you were careful about many things during this time to recover faster. But there’re some strings attached to this surgery, and a discussion with your doctor can help you best understand the situation.

Endometrial ablation is not a widely known procedure, even though it can be helpful for women suffering from heavy vaginal bleeding. Let’s see how this procedure is beneficial and what you can expect after this procedure.

When is endometrial ablation advised?

Endometrial ablation is a procedure recommended to those suffering from heavy bleeding but only as a last resort. Before advising this procedure, the doctor will recommend medications or an intrauterine device (IUD) to help relieve the heavy periods issue. It’s when these treatments don’t work then this procedure is discussed.

The uterus lining is removed under this procedure to reduce or stop the menstrual flow. This lining is known as endometrium, and ablation means to destroy. 

This procedure is suggested to people if they have the following occurring for a long time:

  • Very heavy periods 
  • Long-lasting periods (more than a week)
  • Bleeding between your menstrual cycle
  • Bleeding causing anemia
  • Very painful cramps for which you’ve to depend on a lot of painkillers
  • Other health issues

This procedure can either result in reduced periods to a minimum or stop them entirely from occurring. In some cases, the regrowth of lining is observed in younger women but months or years after the procedure. 

Endometrial ablation procedure preparation

A doctor is talking to his female patient about her upcoming endometrial ablation procedure.

The important thing is to know the procedure before talking about it with your doctor. Gaining some form of knowledge is essential if you think you might need it, and it might or might not be a good option for you. 

We call it a procedure, not a surgery, because it doesn’t involve any surgical incisions. Before the procedure, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and any allergies.

Another vital aspect to remember is that this procedure isn’t suitable for women with cancer, and your cells from the lining will be tested for it. Along with this test, you’ll be tested for any pregnancy, and if you’re currently on IUD, that will be removed.

Before moving forward with the procedure, other important things are how you’re supposed to prepare for it, what will happen during the surgery, and precautions and care after the procedure.

Recovery after endometrial ablation 

This procedure is safe, and you need not worry too much about the recovery period after getting the procedure done.

The recovery time also depends on the kind of procedure your doctor opts for, including extreme cold, heated fluids, microwave energy, or high-end radio frequencies. Before beginning, certain medicines will be prescribed to thin the endometrial tissue.

If the procedure requires anesthesia, then you’ll have to stay in the hospital for a few hours before you can be discharged.

If you had spinal, epidural, or general anesthesia, you’re required to be taken to the recovery room. Once your condition is stable, you’ll be taken to your room and sent home after careful consideration.

It’s essential to have someone know and be by your side during the whole process. You’ll be needing sanitary napkins after the procedure. There might be some nausea and cramps involved after but only for a short time. 

Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications for all of them. Some other after-effects of this surgery include:

  • Increased urination for about a day
  • Menstrual cramping for a few days
  • Nausea
  • Watery or bloody vaginal discharge for several weeks

Menstruation after endometrial ablation

The first couple of periods after the procedure is done might still be a bit heavy. But soon after, things will change as your periods gradually starts to diminish in the first year after the procedure. You should see a difference after 3-4 months but refer to a doctor if you don’t.

Activity 

The overall recovery period is shorter, and you can resume your daily activities in about a week. Your doctor will also advise you to avoid sex, using tampons, or douche for some time. There will also be some advice on carefully going back to your normal activities for some time and how much you can push yourself. 

Avoid going swimming or any other water activities for about a month. There’s a risk of developing an infection if you do so. Just take a shower whenever you start feeling comfortable after the procedure. 

Endometrial ablation affects reproductivity

One popular reason for doctors not recommending this procedure is because it’s basically a sterilization procedure. The endometrial lining is thinned or completely gone after the procedure, reducing the chances of getting pregnant to almost none.

Your reproductive organs remain intact, but since the lining is thinned, it’ll be highly risky even if you get pregnant. So, if you’re planning to have children, this procedure isn’t right for you. Your doctor will brief you more on this. 

If, due to some reason, you’ve to get it done, then discuss your fertility options with your doctor too. One way to have a chance at having a child is to preserve your eggs, which is called freezing eggs. Or you can have embryos frozen, too, if you have got a partner with whom you want to have a child.

This might be your chance to have a baby. You can have your child by surrogacy or adopt too. 

It’s essential to make an informed decision in this regard, so talking to professionals helps arrive at a decision you’re comfortable with. 

Risks and complications 

After getting this procedure, some risks and complications involved after getting this procedure are that you still might get pregnant, but it’ll be a risky one. 

So, using birth control is still advised after this procedure. If you’re entirely positive and determined about not having any children in the future, then your doctor might also recommend getting sterilization done. 

Other risks include:

  • Puncturing of your uterine wall or bowels.
  • Infection or bleeding after your procedure.
  • Damage to your vagina, vulva, or bowels from the hot or cold applications used during the procedure.
  • Absorption of the fluid used during the procedure into your bloodstream.
  • An endometrial ablation failure is when the endometrium grows back abnormally after the procedure. 

Signs of infection after endometrial ablation

Since it’s a minimally invasive procedure, things should be fine, and you should expect to recover in a week and go back to your routine. But even a minimally invasive procedure like this might include some chances of infections. 

When to see a doctor:

  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Trouble urinating
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Extreme abdominal cramping
  • Increased pain and swelling days after the procedure
  • Trouble drinking fluids
  • Being sick in the stomach
  • Trouble passing gas or stool
  • Signs of a blood clot in your leg

These are some of the signs to look out for after getting your procedure done. Although the recovery is easy and doesn’t include much room for infections to take over, there’re always risks involved. 

The vital thing for you to do is be observant of your body and notice any kind of change which discomforts you in any way. Immediately seek medical care from your doctor before the infection becomes worse. 

FAQs

Does endometrial ablation affect hormones?

The procedure of endometrial ablation involves thinning of the uterus lining, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the uterus or other reproductive organs. So, it actually doesn’t affect hormone levels at all.  It also has no effect on weight loss or increases after the procedure.

What is post endometrial ablation syndrome?

PATSS occurs in women after their endometrial ablation procedure when they’ve already gotten tubal sterilization done before. There will be some abdominal cramping immediately following the surgery.

In some rare cases, women might develop cyclic pelvic pain (CPP) after the procedure, lasting for months or years. This is an indication of late-onset endometrial ablation failure. 

Can your uterine lining grow back after an ablation?

There’s a chance of endometrial lining growing back even after the procedure, and there’s no sure way of completely removing it forever. But usually, it takes years for the lining to grow back. 

Sometimes, there’s a chance the ablation may fail right after the procedure is done too. Several factors are involved, such as age, history of tubal ligation, and uterine size. Some people opt for getting another endometrial ablation procedure done.

Which is better, hysterectomy or ablation?

Hysterectomy has more chances of success and is more effective than getting endometrial ablation done. But hysterectomy has more complications too. Endometrial ablation has about a 20% chance of ultimately becoming a hysterectomy as the lining is completely gone. But hysterectomy has more adverse effects. 

Do you still ovulate after ablation?

Endometrial ablation is supposed to destroy the uterus lining and make it thinner. Sometimes, the procedure works to the extent that it’s almost as if a hysterectomy has been done, but a very thin lining still remains in other cases.

This makes it possible for people to still get pregnant as the egg can implant and become fertilized. But since the lining is so thin, the pregnancy might terminate in between or be very risky for the parent and baby. So, doctors still recommend using birth control even after the procedure. 

If you wish to have a baby, discuss your options with your medical advisor before going along with the procedure. 

To summarize

Endometrial ablation is quite an easy procedure if you decide to get it, and the after-care isn’t very extensive, and you can go back to your routine after a week of rest at home. It also depends a lot on the kind of procedure you got done and if it involved using anesthesia or not.

Even with the anesthesia involved, it only makes a minimal difference in the time needed to recover from the procedure. There’re some expected after-effects of the surgery, but they should be gone in no time. 

Like any other surgery, there’re chances of getting infected, so you need to be careful about your body and look for signs or symptoms of infection. Don’t delay your visit to the doctor if you see any abnormal signs of infection. 

Talking to your doctor before getting the procedure done is crucial as they can walk you through the whole process and explain what to expect after the procedure is done. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions and clear your doubts, if any. 

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Saumya Malik is an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. She's passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.
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