A hysteroscopy is a procedure used to examine the inside of the womb (uterus). It’s carried out using a hysteroscope, which is a narrow telescope with a light and camera at the end. Images are sent to a monitor so your doctor or specialist nurse can see inside your womb. The hysteroscope is passed into your womb through your vagina and cervix (entrance to the womb), which means no cuts need to be made in your skin.
A hysteroscopy can be used to:
- investigate symptoms or problems – such as heavy periods, unusual vaginal bleeding, postmenopausal bleeding, pelvic pain, repeated miscarriages or difficulty getting pregnant
- diagnose conditions – such as fibroids and polyps (non-cancerous growths in the womb)
- treat conditions and problems – such as removing fibroids, polyps, displaced intrauterine devices (IUDs) and intrauterine adhesions (scar tissue that causes absent periods and reduced fertility)
A hysteroscopy is usually carried out on an outpatient or day-case basis. This means you don’t have to stay in hospital overnight. It may not be necessary to use anaesthetic for the procedure, although local anaesthetic (where medication is used to numb your cervix) is sometimes used. General anaesthetic may be used if you’re having treatment during the procedure or you would prefer to be asleep while it’s carried out.
A hysteroscopy can take up to 30 minutes in total, although it may only last around 5-10 minutes if it’s just being done to diagnose a condition or investigate symptoms. You may experience some discomfort similar to period cramps while it’s carried out, but it shouldn’t be painful.
Most women feel able to return to their normal activities the following day, although some women return to work the same day. You may wish to have a few days off to rest if general anaesthetic was used.
While you’re recovering:
- you can eat and drink as normal straight away
- you may experience cramping that’s similar to period pain and some spotting or bleeding for a few days – this is normal and nothing to worry about unless it’s heavy
- you should avoid having sex for a week, or until any bleeding has stopped, to reduce the risk of infection (see below)