We provide expert ultrasound practitioners within all our clinics. This test for women is a vital way of assessing your fertility problem and also an essential way of monitoring all treatments in the clinic.
What is ultrasound?
An ultrasound test uses high frequency sound waves to look at various organs and soft tissues within the body. Ultrasound can be used to look at the internal organs within the abdomen (lower tummy area) and pelvis (at the lower end of the spine), to look for fluid within the chest or to look at soft tissues in any part of the body, including the eye and muscles within the limbs. It is also used to look at an unborn baby in the womb.
Ultrasound scans are used widely in fertility medicine to evaluate your womb, ovaries and pelvic area. Every fertility treatment will generally require at least one ultrasound scan to monitor your egg production or the growth in the lining of your womb as your body prepares for pregnancy.
How is it done?
Ultrasound is a painless procedure. When looking at the organs in a woman’s pelvis by ultrasound, often the ultrasound probe is placed in the vagina (a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan). The reason for this is that the probe can get closer to the womb and ovaries giving much more information and detail. This is the way most early pregnancy ultrasounds are done.
The ultrasound probe transmits and collects the sound waves which make up the ultrasound picture. The doctor will see the picture (which is black and white) at the same time on a TV screen.
Why are ultrasounds done?
Ultrasound is used as part of the investigation into the cause of a your fertility problem, to show if you have any problems that might reduce your chance of a pregnancy or increase the chance of a miscarriage. It can be used to view the body’s internal structures to see if they are structurally normal. It is also used to monitor the growth of egg-containing follicles in the ovary and the increase in thickness of the lining of the womb during fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF.
Abnormalities such as fibroids, cysts, swollen tubes, uterine polyps, excess fluid and abnormal growths can be seen using this technique. It is also used to confirm a healthy pregnancy and analyses the development of unborn babies to check for normal growth and any abnormalities.
Benefits and risks
Ultrasound is a very safe procedure and does not involve any radiation. It is also easy to perform and is painless.
There are no serious risks associated with the ultrasound.
Do I have other choices?
There are alternative diagnostic tests that you might have instead. These include:
- CT scans – this method looks at the structures of the body using computer-generated images (computed tomography). It is a painless procedure and the person is conscious, but must lie quite still while they rest inside the scanning device, so that accurate images of the brain can be taken (rather like having a photograph taken). The technique is 100 times more sensitive than conventional radiography.
- MRI scans – this is a special imaging technique used to see internal parts of the body, particularly the soft tissues. These scans may be used for detecting some cancers and other diseases or for following their progress.
The possible alternative tests depend on the person’s symptoms. Doctors differ in whether or not they perform the procedure – some will use ultrasound first as it is painless and easy to perform. Others will use another diagnostic test – which will depend on the problem.