A hysteroscopy is performed to diagnose and treat issues affecting the uterus or the opening to the uterus (the cervix). At Women’s HealthFirst in northwest suburban Chicago, we are able to perform this procedure in our offices for the convenience of our patients. It may also be performed in an outpatient center or hospital.
Where Are the Cervix and Uterus, Exactly?
Commonly known as the womb, the uterus lay just beyond the vagina and cervix. It is the meeting ground where mature eggs end up, after being released from the ovaries and traveling through the fallopian tubes. The uterus is where a fertilized egg becomes embedded at the beginning of a pregnancy.
The cervix is the lowermost portion, or the “neck,” of the uterus. It is the passageway that connects the uterus to the vaginal canal. In most women, the cervix remains closed and firm but will open slightly to allow blood to exit the uterus during menstruation.
Why a Hysteroscopy Is Performed
One of the most common reasons for a hysteroscopy is to explore potential causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding. It is also performed in conjunction with a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, for a variety of reasons.
Common procedures performed during a hysteroscopy include to:
- Remove polyps, uterine fibroids, or scar tissue
- Locate a displaced intrauterine device (IUD)
- Identify the potential cause of repeated miscarriages
- Perform an alternative to a laparoscopic tubal ligation
- Biopsy suspicious tissue
- Destroy uterine tissue to treat heavy periods
- Confirm the results of a hysterosalpingogram
What to Expect During a Hysteroscopy
You may be asked to take a pregnancy test beforehand, as a hysteroscopy is not recommended for pregnant women. Also, it is best to schedule a hysteroscopy at a time other than when you are having your menstrual period.
In preparation for the procedure, your doctor will gradually dilate the cervix using metal rods of increasingly greater diameter. The uterus may be filled with water or gas to expand the area and help your provider see the area more clearly.
During a hysteroscopy, a thin, lighted, and flexible device called a hysteroscope is inserted into the vagina under local anesthesia. The hysteroscope includes a lighted camera, which transmits images of your cervix and uterus onto a screen, which allows your OB-GYN provider a better view for diagnosis and treatment.
If treatment is needed, miniature instruments will be inserted through the hysteroscope. The entire procedure usually is fairly quick – about an hour or less, on average. You should be able to resume your regular activities within a day or two, depending on the extent of the procedure.
This diagnosis-and-treatment procedure can help some women avoid a hysterectomy, depending on the condition or concerns they have. It may also help identify the cause of certain common OB-GYN symptoms, such as painful or heavy periods.