What is a hysteroscopy?

A hysteroscopy is a telescope that looks inside the cervix and womb (uterus).

How is a hysteroscopy performed

A hysteroscopy is often performed while you are asleep under a general anaesthetic. It can also be performed while you are awake or lightly sedated in an out patient clinic.

The hysteroscope is a thin, lighted tube that is placed into the vagina, through the cervix and moved upwards into the womb. Inside the womb either fluid or gas is used to open up the cavity to allow a good view. The entire cavity of the womb is inspected carefully, including the opening of the fallopian tubes.

Who might need a hysteroscopy?

Many women may undergo a hysteroscopy. It is usualy recommended for women with:

  • Infertility
  • Repeated miscarriages
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause
  • A lost or badly placed IUCD (intrauterine contraceptive device or coil)
  • Where a cancer of the lining of the womb is suspected
  • Where an ultrasound scan has suggested an abnormality such as a polyp of the lining, a generally thickened lining or a possible cancer of the womb lining
  • Bleeding at times other than a period
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

What can I expect?

A hysteroscopy is usually scheduled for just after your menstrual period has finished. This is a time when the lining of the womb is thin and easy to assess and also a time when you are not pregnant.  Hysteroscopy takes between 15-60 minutes and most women go home 2-8 hours after the procedure. It is normal to have some light vaginal bleeding for up to a week after the procedure. Most women will also experience some period-like cramps or mild pelvic pain for 1-2 days afterwards.

If the procedure was straightforward, most women resume their normal activities and go back to work the day after a hysteroscopy.

As well as looking inside the cervix and womb, it is also possible to treat certain medical conditions through the hysteroscope e.g.

  • Removal of polyps in the womb lining
  • Performing an endometrial scratch to enhance the chance of pregnancy
  • Biopsy or abnormal areas of the womb lining
  • Removal of a septum or wall inside the womb
  • Removal of small fibroids growing inside the womb
  • Removal of scar tissue inside the womb

What are the risks?

Hysteroscopy is a very safe procedure. The risk of a problem occurring is very small.

Risks which can occur are:

  • Infection after the procedure
  • Heavy bleeding during or after the procedure
  • A hole being made in the womb by the hysteroscopy (a perforation)
  • Complications from the fluid or gas used during the procedure

Who should not have a hysteroscopy?

Women who are pregnant or suspect they may be pregnant should not have a hysteroscopy.