Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Radio-frequency endometrial ablation

4-minute read

This page will give you information about a radio-frequency endometrial ablation. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a radio-frequency endometrial ablation?

A radio-frequency endometrial ablation is an operation that uses radio-frequency energy to thin the lining (endometrium) of your uterus (womb). After the operation most women have a noticeable reduction in their periods and, for some women, periods stop altogether.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The most common reason for having an endometrial ablation is to relieve the symptoms of heavy periods (abnormal uterine bleeding).

Most women will have much less bleeding when they have their period. Pain is usually significantly reduced, although for some women mild cramping may still happen.

Just under half of the women who have the operation will not have periods anymore.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Heavy periods can be treated using a variety of non-hormonal and hormonal oral (by mouth) medications.

Other alternatives include an IUS (intra-uterine system - an implant containing a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone that fits in your womb) but these are usually tried before surgery is recommended.

Illustration showing a loop ileostomy.
a A mesh expanded inside the womb
b Radio-frequency energy through the mesh

What does the operation involve?

The operation can be performed under a local or general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes less than 20 minutes.

Your gynaecologist will place a radio-frequency probe into your womb. They will expand a mesh from the probe in your womb. Your gynaecologist will check that your womb is intact and then pass radio-frequency energy through the mesh. The radio-frequency energy will be delivered for about 90 seconds, thinning the lining of your womb.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • bleeding or discharge
  • infection
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung

Specific early complications

  • failed procedure
  • making a hole in your womb with possible damage to a nearby structure
  • thermal burns

Specific late complications

  • continued bleeding or pain needing another endometrial ablation or a hysterectomy
  • haematometra, where blood and other menstrual fluid collect in pockets in your womb
  • if you have been previously sterilised, tubal sterilisation syndrome

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

You may get some cramps and mild bleeding similar to a period. Rest for 1 to 2 days and take painkillers if you need them.

You should be able to return to normal activities after 2 to 4 days. Most women are fit for work after about a week.

You should expect to have some bleeding or discharge for up to 4 weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

The operation is not recommended for women who still want children.


An endometrial ablation is a common gynaecological operation. It helps relieve the symptoms of heavy periods. You should get less bleeding and pain.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Hysterectomy - Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo