If you are considering having an endometrium operation or have one planned, it is important to know all you can about it. This includes:
The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your treatment choices with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.
You may be having problems with your periods. Your periods may be heavy. You may be bleeding between your periods. You may be bleeding after you have passed the menopause when you should have no more periods. A scan may have shown thickening of your endometrium.
The endometrium is the lining of your uterus. Your uterus lies in the centre of your pelvis. It is about the size of your clenched fist and is hollow with a special lining. The lowest part of your uterus jutting down into your vagina, is ‘the neck of the womb’, also called your cervix.Cervical smears are taken from the surface of your cervix. The rest of your uterus is called the body. It thins out at the top to form two hollow tubes called the Fallopian tubes. You have a Fallopian tube on each side.These run sideways to end near your left or right ovary.
Your endometrium changes with your monthly menstrual cycle. Chemicals from your ovaries, called hormones, control your menstrual cycle. Every month, provided you are not pregnant or past the menopause, your endometrium is shed as a period.
Near the middle of your cycle you release an egg from one of your ovaries. Hormones from your ovaries will have already thickened your endometrium, ready to receive the egg. If your egg is fertilised by a sperm, it will stick firmly to your endometrium and develop into a baby in your uterus. If it is not fertilised, your hormones change. This change makes your endometrium come away with some bleeding; this is a period. After a few days a new thin layer of endometrium forms. This starts to thicken, ready to receive a fertilised egg during your next cycle. After the menopause, your ovaries stop producing the hormones that control your menstrual cycle. Your endometrium remains thin and your periods stop.
We have been unable to find a definite cause for your period problem. You will already have had tests to rule out serious conditions, such as fibroids or cancer. In some way, the shedding mechanism of your endometrium is not working properly. This condition is called dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Tablet medication will not have helped with the problem.
This is an operation to cut away your endometrium, which lines the inside of your uterus. It may be called a TCRE for short. We pass a thin telescope, called a hysteroscope, through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus. This lets us see inside your uterus. We pass another instrument, called a resectoscope, through the hysteroscope to remove your endometrium. The resectoscope has a loop of wire at the end, which cuts using an electric current called diathermy. Diathermy not only cuts but is also used to seal off any bleeding. You will usually be unconscious with a general anaesthetic while this is done. Weeks before your operation you will need drug treatment to make your endometrium thinner and reduce its blood supply. These drugs are usually danazol tablets or hormone injections, called GnRH analogues.
We aim to stop your bleeding problems by removing the endometrium lining your uterus. We call this process resection. We send the removed tissue for laboratory examination.
If your endometrium is completely removed you will have no further periods. If only a small amount of your endometrium remains, your periods should be light.
Your endometrium has great powers of regeneration. It can grow back if only a very small amount is not destroyed. We cannot guarantee that this operation will permanently stop your periods. Most women, about 85%, are pleased with the result after four years. Some of the remaining women will need a repeat TCRE or even an operation to remove the uterus, called a hysterectomy. After a TCRE you will have much less chance of becoming pregnant, but it can still occur. You must still use contraception. Only some forms of contraception are suitable. Sterilisation is ideal. The contraceptive pill and the coil (IUCD) are not. All of your endometrium and some of the muscle layer below it must be removed for an effective long-lasting result. There is a danger of making a hole, called a perforation, through the muscle layer. If this happens you may need a hysterectomy.
If your bleeding is not severe, treatment with hormones and other drugs may help. A special device like a coil, called a Mirena IUS, can be put into your uterus. It contains hormones that stop your endometrium working. Instead of removing your endometrium we can destroy it with an endometrial ablation. A disadvantage of ablation is that it leaves no tissue for examination, so we do a hysteroscopy and endometrial biopsy a few weeks before to get the samples. There are several ways of doing an ablation. These are detailed in the leaflet Hysteroscopic Endometrial Ablation that is within this series. A hysterectomy, where your uterus is removed, is the only operation guaranteed to permanently stop your periods and bleeding problems. If you have other problems with your uterus, such as a prolapse or a disease of the cervix, a hysterectomy is often the most effective treatment. Discuss the various options with your gynaecologist.
If you do nothing and you have not reached the menopause, your period problems are likely to continue until you do. If you have heavy bleeding, you may become anaemic over time. Anaemia is when your blood does not contain enough oxygen-carrying, red blood cells.