Types, Procedure, Risks, Recovery & Cost of Endometrial Ablation

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Endometrial ablation is a medical procedure in which the endometrial layer of the uterus is destroyed. This is usually performed to reduce menstrual flow or stop it completely. This is an evasive procedure that does not require any incisions to be made on the body. The procedure can be performed in a doctor's clinic under anesthesia. However, some types of ablation procedures may have to be performed in a sterilized operating room. It is the doctor's responsibility to choose the endometrial ablation method most appropriate for you.

Types of Endometrial Ablation

There are several different types of endometrial ablation techniques. These are usually based on heating or cooling of the endometrial lining. Electric current and microwave energy may also be used to cauterize the uterine lining. Here are some of the techniques used for endometrial ablation.

  • Electrocautery: This is a procedure in which small electric currents are passed through a wireloop. This wireloop is attached to a slender probe. When the doctor inserts the probe inside the cervix and applies it to the endometrium, the tissue is cauterized by the electricity.
  • Hydrothermal energy: The slender probe is used to pump heated fluids into the uterus. The high temperature cauterizes and destroys the endometrial lining.
  • Cryoablation: Liquid nitrogen is passed through the probe into the uterus and the endometrium is frozen. As the ice thaws, the endometrial lining is spontaneously shed.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: There is a small triangular mesh electrode at the end of probe. When the probe is inserted into the cervix, the electrode passes electric current into the uterus, destroying the endometrium.
  • Balloon therapy: A catheter with a small balloon at the end is passed into the cervix. This uterus is filled with fluids. Once the catheter is inside the uterus, the fluid inside the balloon is heated to a point that it begins to erode the tissues of the endometrial lining.
  • Microwave ablation: This is a process in which microwave energy is used to destroy the endometrium. The slender probe has a small device on its end, which emits microwave energy. When the probe is inserted into the uterus, it can be used for endometrial ablation.


Endometrial ablation is not a complicated procedure, but should be performed by a medically qualified doctor or a surgeon. There are several different methods used for endometrial ablation, and depending on which method is used, specific tools may be selected for a procedure. The doctor simply inserts a few slender tools into the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus, and destroys the lining of the uterus. These tools are equipped with heating or cooling technology, which can help freeze or thaw the uterine lining so that the endometrium can be shed on its own or is cauterized. Some of the probes and catheters may also use small amounts of electric current or microwave energy into the uterus for endometrial ablation. The procedure is performed under anesthesia in a doctor's clinic or a hospital.

Risks Associated

Like any other medical procedure, endometrial ablation also has certain risks. These include the following.

  • Uterine perforation: If the probe is not held properly, the surgical instrument could damage the uterine wall and the patient could suffer from a puncture injury.
  • Damage to nearby organs: The heat, cold, electricity or the microwave energy used for ablation of the endometrial wall could possibly overheat or overcool nearby organs, damaging them temporarily or permanently.
  • Inability to reproduce: Some women may experience reduced fertility after the procedure. Some others may not be able to reproduce at all. A small number of women may still remain fertile after going through an endometrial ablation. It is possible to choose a process that sterilizes the uterus to prevent any future pregnancies.
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Bleeding


Most doctors allow you to go home on the same day as the procedure. Since for most women this procedure is performed under general anesthesia, it may take about 3 to 4 hours for recovery in the clinic or the hospital. Post operation, you may experience light bleeding for a few days. This is completely normal. The bleeding lessens eventually and appears as slightly heavy discharge. If you notice any heavy bleeding or foul smelling discharge, consult your doctor immediately. You can wear sanitary napkins for the next few days. Avoid using tampons to prevent infection.

Cost and Expenses

The cost of endometrial ablation depends on the type of procedure used and whether the procedure is performed in a doctor's clinic or in an operating theatre. In addition to the actual cost of the procedure, you should also consider the cost of anesthesia and other technicalities. Thermal ablation is usually the cheapest, and its cost is about $2,700 if performed in a doctor's office and about $5,600 if performed in an operation theatre. The prices may vary from one place to another.