A hysteroscopy is a common procedure, usually carried out on an outpatient basis. It is used to examine the inside of the uterus and is carried out using a hysteroscope (a narrow tube with a telescope at the end). Images are sent to a computer to give a close-up of the womb. Depending on the reason for your hysteroscopy, it can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.
A hysteroscopy can be used to help diagnosis cases where a woman’s symptoms suggest that there may be a problem with the womb. Symptoms such as –
- pelvic pain
- heavy or irregular periods
- bleeding in between normal periods
- unusual vaginal discharge
- repeated miscarriage
A hysteroscopy can also be used to remove abnormal growths from the womb, such as –
- polyps – small growths that develop on the lining of the womb and can cause irregular and heavy periods
- fibroids – non-cancerous growths that can develop inside the womb and can sometimes cause symptoms such as pain and heavy periods
- intrauterine adhesions – which are sections of scar tissue that can cause absent periods and infertility
The surgeon will use a device called a speculum to open up the walls of the vagina, in the same way it is used during a smear test. The surgeon will then insert the hysteroscope through the cervix, into the womb. Often gas or fluid is used to inflate the womb to give the surgeon a better view. If a biopsy or treatment, such as removal of polyps, is needed, other instruments will be passed into the womb. A hysteroscopy usually takes between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on what needs to be done.
Some women will experience cramping similar to period pains after a hysteroscopy, but this usually passes within a few days. Most women feel they can return to normal activities, such as work, the day after the procedure. A hysteroscopy is a very safe procedure with a low risk of complications.