If you have heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, or bleeding after menopause, the OB/GYN team here at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, may recommend that you undergo a diagnostic procedure called a hysteroscopy.
This procedure gives your provider a comprehensive view of the interior of your uterus, so they can identify polyps, small fibroids, or cancerous growths that don’t show up in a pelvic exam or ultrasound. We can also sometimes remove small polyps or fibroids during a hysteroscopy.
We want you to be as comfortable as possible during the procedure. Here’s what to expect during a hysteroscopy.
We might recommend you have a hysteroscopy so we can get a better idea of what’s causing your irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding. This includes heavy bleeding that doesn’t improve with medications or bleeding between your periods.
If you have bleeding after you’ve passed through menopause, a hysteroscopy may explain why.
A hysteroscopy can also be part of an infertility evaluation or to determine why you’ve had unexplained miscarriages.
In addition to its diagnostic use, a hysteroscopy may also be ordered if we know you have small polyps or fibroids, adhesions, or scar tissue that must be removed. A hysteroscopy may be part of an endometrial ablation, a procedure that thins the uterine lining to ease heavy periods.
A hysteroscopy can also be useful in the unusual case that your contraceptive device, namely an intrauterine device (IUD), has gotten stuck or “lost.” We can locate the IUD during the procedure and put it back where it should be, or remove it altogether.
A hysteroscope is a thin instrument that has a camera and small light attached to one end. During the procedure, you relax on a regular examination table with your feet in stirrups — much like you do for a pelvic exam.
Your provider gently slides the hysteroscope into your vagina. You feel the subtle pressure of the sterile water that flows through the instrument to separate the walls of the uterus. Some water may flow out of your vagina.
The hysteroscope is then inserted through your cervix and into the uterus. You’re able to see its path on a video screen in the treatment room.
Sometimes, we use a general or local anesthetic during the procedure to relax you and make you comfortable. We discuss your preferences and the pros and cons of using sedation prior to your procedure.
The entire procedure lasts as little as five minutes, or maybe up to 30 minutes, depending on what your provider finds and whether any tissue needs to be removed.
A hysteroscopy doesn’t generally cause pain. It might feel awkward and uncomfortable, however.
If your cervix does not open easily, we may need to dilate it with special instruments. We inject a local anesthetic to make this procedure comfortable.
Following the procedure, expect to have some cramping that feels a lot like menstrual pain. We advise you to take ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication prior to your appointment to ward off post-procedure pain.
You may also see a watery or bloody discharge for 3-4 weeks. This is normal, but if you have any concerns, please reach out to our offices.
The qualified OB/GYN team at Capital Women’s Care is ready to help you, even if you’re feeling unsure about certain procedures.
Talk to our friendly staff, and we can answer any other questions you have about a hysteroscopy or other gynecological procedures. Call or use this website to request your appointment.