What you need to know about hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is a procedure which is carried out through a narrow telescope (hysteroscope). The aim of the surgeon is to examine the inside of the womb (uterus). It is also possible to remove polyps or fibroids, or correct anatomical defects of the uterus, such as adhesions, or a uterine septum, at the same time.

The hysteroscope is passed into the uterus through the vagina and cervix, therefore no cuts need to be made.

Hysteroscopy can be used to:

  • investigate symptoms such as heavy periods, subfertility, postmenopausal bleeding, recurrent miscarriages
  • diagnose +/- treat conditions, such as fibroids, polyps and adhesions

Hysteroscopy is usually carried out on an outpatient basis, usually using a light anesthetic, or in the office without anesthetic (office hysteroscopy). The procedure may last around 5-10 minutes, if it's just being done to diagnose conditions, or up to 20-25 minutes, if a certain condition needs rectifying.

Following the procedure, discomfort similar to period cramps is common. Bleeding may also occur, which may last a few days, depending on the type of the operation.

Postoperatively, patients can eat and drink as normal and may return to their activities as early as the next day. Intercourse should be avoided for a week, or until bleeding has stopped, in order to reduce risk of infection. For this reason, antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Hysteroscopy is generally considered to be safe, but like any procedure there is a small risk of complications. These are:

  • perforation of the uterus, which is uncommon, but may in rare cases, require blood transfusion or another operation to repair it
  • excessive bleeding during or after surgery
  • infection of the uterus
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