A quick guide to hysteroscopy
If you have been having unexplained, persistent problems with your uterus (womb) – perhaps pain, heavy or unusual patterns of bleeding, recurrent miscarriages or unusual discharge – then a hysteroscopy may be recommended to you by your doctor. It’s primarily a method of diagnosis – a way in which to try and spot what’s going on inside your body.
Why do I need it?
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms thought to originate in your uterus that can’t be pinpointed by your doctor, then he or she may say that a hysteroscopy is the way forward. It can also be a way to investigate the causes of apparent infertility, and can be a method of having an IUD removed.
At this stage, your doctor might still be unsure as to what is causing the issues you’ve described, whether that’s bleeding, pain, bloating in your lower abdomen. Doing a hysteroscopy will actually allow your doctor to see inside your uterus to make a visual diagnosis and potentially carry out treatment.
What happens during the procedure?
The hysteroscope is a narrow tube fitted with a light and a camera. Your vagina will be opened with a speculum and then the hysteroscope will be slipped inside and pushed gently through your cervix into your uterus. Gas or fluid will be run down through the tube to expand your uterus in order to achieve a clearer view of the whole area.
The light and camera will transmit images to a screen on which your doctor can try to analyze exactly what’s going on. It’s a straightforward outpatient procedure, done either under local or general anesthetic.
A hysteroscopy often goes hand-in-hand with other procedures, such as dilation and curettage and polyp and fibroid removal, to allow the surgeon to pinpoint the areas to be targeted. If your doctor finds issues that could be treated easily during the hysteroscopy, such as abnormal growths, polyps, cysts, and so on, then he or she may remove these at the same time. Tissue biopsies may also be taken.
How will I feel afterwards?
As there are absolutely no incisions made, this is in general a very safe procedure, so there’s no need to be concerned.
Risks include perforation of the internal tissue, bleeding or fluid build-up, but in most cases, you will only have the effects of the general anesthetic (if you had it) to deal with. That may make you feel nauseas and sleepy, but by the following day, you should be feeling perky again! Mild cramps or blood in your vaginal discharge are common, but do tell your doctor if you’re concerned by anything in the wake of your hysteroscopy.