Hysteroscopy: An Overview

Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to examine the inside of a woman’s uterus. During a hysteroscopy, a thin, lighted tube (hysteroscope) is inserted through the vagina and cervix, allowing the doctor to view the inside of the uterus.

Preparing for a Hysteroscopy

Your doctor will likely ask you to schedule the procedure to occur between days 6 and 12 of your menstrual cycle. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications prior to the procedure, as some medications can affect the outcome. If the doctor recommends a general anesthetic, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking before the procedure. You should also arrange for a family member or friend to take you home after the procedure.

Hysteroscopy Procedure

The hysteroscopy procedure typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes. The doctor will slide a thin tube-like instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina and into the uterus. The hysteroscope contains a tiny camera and light. The camera displays the inside of the uterus on a video monitor. During the procedure, the doctor may take biopsies, insert instruments to cut or remove tissue, or insert other instruments to repair uterus defects.

Types of Hysteroscopy

The type of hysteroscopy performed depends on the patient’s condition and the reason for the procedure. The three main types of hysteroscopy are:

  • Diagnostic hysteroscopy – This type of hysteroscopy is used to diagnose any problems in the inside of the uterus.
  • Operative hysteroscopy – A doctor may use this type of hysteroscopy to treat problems inside the uterus, such as fibroids or polyps.
  • Hysteroscopic sterilization – This type of hysteroscopy may be performed for sterilization purposes.

Risks of Hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is generally very safe. Most women don’t have any side effects. Some may experience cramping or spotting after the procedure. Rarely, an infection or reaction to the anesthesia may occur. Hysteroscopy can also increase the risk of miscarriage, especially in women who are already pregnant.

Why Have Hysteroscopy?

The primary reasons for having a hysteroscopy are to diagnose and treat certain conditions. Women may opt for a hysteroscopy to examine the inside of the uterus for the following conditions:

  • Infertility
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Abnormal growths in the uterus, such as polyps or fibroids
  • Recurrent miscarriage or early pregnancy loss
  • Uterine septum (a wall between the two sides of the uterus)
  • Unexplained pelvic pain
  • Anomalies of the uterus as seen on an ultrasound

When to Get a Hysteroscopy

Your doctor may recommend a hysteroscopy if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. A hysteroscopy may also be performed after a miscarriage to make sure there weren’t any remaining tissues in the uterus.

Hysteroscopy is becoming an increasingly common procedure among women of child-bearing age. It is considered to be a safe and effective way to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions related to the uterus. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms that may warrant a hysteroscopy.