Heavy Menstrual Periods

Treatment of Heavy Menstrual Periods

Suffering from heavy or frequent periods? While the first line of treatment is typically medical and hormone therapies, these treatments are not always successful in stopping constant and uncomfortable bleeding. Some women may need a surgery called endometrial ablation, which destroys the endometrium or lining of the uterus.

This procedure is specifically performed to treat benign (non-cancerous) reasons for excessive bleeding. If a woman has cancer that is causing the abnormal bleeding, endometrial ablation is not recommended.

Endometrial Ablation

Endometrial ablation is performed on women who are not pregnant and who are not planning on becoming pregnant in the future. There are a variety of ways to perform an endometrial ablation. At WakeMed, our board-certified gynecologists perform this outpatient procedure to help women regain a better quality of life.

Before a woman can have endometrial ablation, the gynecologist will perform an exam that includes a biopsy of the endometrial lining to rule out cancer as the cause. A patient may also undergo imaging studies or additional visualization using a hysteroscope (a light that is inserted through the vagina to view the uterus). This can help determine if there are polyps or fibroid tumors in the lining. In these cases, if either are seen, they may be removed.

The procedure, which is usually performed using local anesthetic with or without sedation, is performed by dilating the cervix (the canal between the vagina and uterus) so that the surgeon can access the endometrium. Different procedures can be used to destroy the lining, including a laser, electricity, freezing, heating and microwaving the tissue. The method used is dependent upon several factors such as the presence of fibroids, size and shape of the uterus, as well as the patient's preference.

This procedure is usually performed as an outpatient surgery. The majority of women have decreased bleeding following endometrial ablation, but a few women may have to eventually have a hysterectomy to control bleeding.

Learn What to Expect from Endometrial Ablation