What is a hysteroscopy?

A hysteroscopy is a gynecologic procedure where your doctor will look inside your uterus to diagnose and treat causes of abnormal bleeding.

During a hysteroscopy, your physician will insert the hysteroscope — a thin tube with a light on the end, into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus. A hysteroscopy can be used as either a diagnostic procedure or as a treatment procedure.

Who is a candidate for a hysteroscopy?

A hysteroscopy is an effective treatment for many patients. Your Mercy Health doctor will evaluate your case to determine if it is appropriate for your case.

Your doctor may recommend a hysteroscopy to diagnose the cause of problems such as:

  • Unexplained miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Heavy or irregular bleeding that does not subside after taking medication
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Bleeding after menopause

Your doctor may order a hysteroscopy to remove:

  • Polyps or uterine fibroids that are causing severe pain or bleeding
  • Scar tissue that has built up in uterus
  • Endometrial ablations - where uterine walls are sticking together
  • Perform an endometrial ablation or locate a lost IUD.

What are the risks of a hysteroscopy?

Although a hysteroscopy is generally a safe procedure, complications can occur. Risks associated with a hysteroscopy include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to uterus, cervix, bowel or bladder
  • Scar tissue buildup in the uterus
  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia
  • Adverse reaction to Sorbitol or NACL, which is used to expand the uterus

What to expect during a hysteroscopy?

A hysteroscopy used as a treatment is performed under general or local anesthesia. Patients who are having a hysteroscopy as a diagnostic test may be given local anesthesia.

Your doctor will follow the following steps during a hysteroscopy:

  • The hysteroscope is guided into the uterus from the vagina and through the cervix using either a salt solution, NACL, or a sugar solution, Sorbitol. This process will expand the uterus, so your doctor can clearly see into the uterine cavity and clear away any blood or mucus.
  • Your doctor will shine a light through the hysteroscope, so your doctor can see your uterus as well as the opening of the fallopian tubes that lead into the uterus.
  • If you need surgery, small medical instruments are inserted into the uterus through the hysteroscope.

Depending on whether the procedure is diagnostic, surgical or if you need additional treatments, the procedure can take anywhere from five minutes to more than an hour to perform. In most cases, diagnostic hysteroscopies take less time than a surgical hysteroscopy.

Recovery from a hysteroscopy

If you have had a surgical hysteroscopy, you may experience cramping and bleeding for several days. You also may have shoulder pain, gas pains or experience abdominal fullness for two to three days if your uterus was filled with air during the procedure. If your uterus was filled with fluid, you may experience watery discharge.

Most women can return to their daily activities the day after their procedure. Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to your normal routine.

If you experience pain after the procedure, your doctor will outline what medications are safe for you. Avoid any aspirin products because they can cause excessive bleeding.

Do not participate in sexual activity until your doctor has given you clearance.