March 24, 2022

Endometrial Ablation vs. Hysterectomy

Middle aged woman reads on her smartphone outside

Two medical procedures that address issues with the uterus are endometrial ablation (also called uterine ablation) and hysterectomy. Endometrial ablation is a surgical procedure that destroys the endometrium — a thin layer of the uterine lining. A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. 

If you and your doctor have identified a problem involving your uterus, it’s helpful to understand these procedures in case one of them is prescribed for you.

Why Endometrial Ablation and Hysterectomy Are Performed

Endometrial ablation is an option for helping people who don’t intend to have children and who regularly experience heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), anemia as a result of heavy bleeding, or bleeding between periods. The goal of the procedure is to permanently stop menstrual bleeding. 

A hysterectomy is used to address several medical problems with the uterus. Before endometrial ablation was an option, hysterectomy was sometimes used to address HMB. The procedure is also used to treat conditions like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, and uterine, endometrial, cervical, and ovarian cancers

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Pros and Cons of Ablation vs. Hysterectomy

When weighing the pros and cons of endometrial ablation and hysterectomy, two of the biggest factors tend to be how involved the procedures are and the recovery time. 

Endometrial ablation is an outpatient procedure. That means there is no hospital stay. Patients may experience nausea, cramping, bleeding, and increased urination for a few days following the procedure. They may also have watery-bloody discharge for a few weeks.

Hysterectomy is a more invasive procedure. Patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days or longer following the surgery. The recovery time is also longer. Hysterectomies can be performed in different ways. For vaginal, laparoscopic, and robotic procedures, three or four weeks generally is required for recuperation. For abdominal surgery, the recovery period is approximately four to six weeks. 

Endometrial Ablation: A Hysterectomy Alternative in Some Cases

Many people have heard the term “hysterectomy” and have some understanding of what the procedure entails. Fewer are familiar with endometrial ablation. However, it can be a good, less-invasive option for treating heavy menstrual bleeding.

Your doctor can talk with you about your situation and the advantages and disadvantages of the two procedures.

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Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
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Discussing Benefits of Uterine Ablation
Causes of Pelvic Pain in Women and When to See a Doctor

Learn More.