Hysteroscopy is used to examine the inside of the uterus. The hysteroscope is a thin instrument with a lens and a light source and a camera attached to one end. This allows very careful and thorough examination of the uterine cavity.
When is it used?
Hysteroscopy may be performed to examine abnormal uterine bleeding such as:
heavy menstrual bleeding
bleeding between periods
bleeding after menopause
Hysteroscopy can help discover causes of the bleeding, such as polyps or fibroids. It can be used to perform a biopsy of the uterus to check for cancerous growth, especially in postmenopausal women. In some cases the procedure may be used to treat the underlying problem. For example, small polyps or fibroids may be removed.
How do I prepare for a hysteroscopy?
Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast the morning of your appointment. Ideally the procedure should be scheduled in the first seven days after your period has ended. This is not always possible due to irregular menstrual cycles. If your periods are irregular, you may need to take a hormonal medication once daily until your appointment. You will be given a prescription for this as needed. Take 800 mg of Ibuprofen (Motrin or similar) by mouth the night before and 1 hour prior to the procedure. If you have not been able to tolerate Ibuprofen in the past you can take one Percocet or Tylenol #3 by mouth 1 hour prior to the procedure. If you have not delivered a child through the birth canal you will be given a prescription for a medication that will soften your cervix. You will be given a prescription and asked to take two pills by mouth the night before the procedure. You will be asked to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test if appropriate.
What happens during the procedure?
Hysteroscopy will be performed in the office on a regular examination table. The hysteroscope is gently placed into the vagina and sterile water that flows through the hysteroscope is turned on. There may be some water flowing out of the vagina, which is normal. The water is used to separate the walls of the uterus, which normally touch each other. The hysteroscope is then gently inserted through the cervix and into the uterus under direct vision. You can watch this on the TV monitor if you wish. Once inside the uterus the whole uterine cavity is examined for potential abnormalities. You are encouraged to ask what you are seeing during the procedure. This will take approximately 3-5 minutes. Occasionally, the cervix does not open easily. In this case the cervix needs to be dilated with specialized instruments. If the cervix needs to be dilated, a local anesthetic is injected into the cervix since the dilation can otherwise be relatively painful. The average pain score during office hysteroscopy is 2 to 3 on a scale from zero to 10, where zero is no pain and 10 is worst pain ever.