A hysteroscopy is a procedure for looking at the inside of your uterus with a thin, flexible, lighted tube. The tube is called a hysteroscope. Your healthcare provider may be able to use the scope to guide a tool into the uterus to destroy a thin layer of the uterine lining that is causing abnormal bleeding symptoms.
The uterus is the muscular organ at the top of the vagina. Babies develop in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus.
This procedure may be done when you have bleeding from the uterus that is very heavy or has lasted for a long time and other treatments have not helped. It is generally not used if you are planning future pregnancies. Removing the lining of the uterus will reduce or stop the bleeding. It does not change your hormone levels.
Examples of possible alternatives to this procedure are:
Ask your provider about these choices and which might be best for you.
You should not have this procedure if:
Before you have the procedure, you may take progesterone-based hormones or other medicine that blocks the ability of your body to produce estrogen for a while. This will shrink the lining of the uterus.
Plan for your care and recovery after the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day tasks.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers heal more slowly after surgery. They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. For these reasons, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
If you need a minor pain reliever in the week before the procedure, choose acetaminophen rather than aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. This helps avoid extra bleeding during surgery. If you are taking daily aspirin for a medical condition, ask your provider if you need to stop taking it before the procedure.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you. If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight or the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
Your provider may put a laminaria (a small rod made of seaweed that absorbs moisture) into the cervix the day before the hysteroscopy to help soften and dilate the cervix. This can make the procedure easier and safer to perform.
The procedure will be done at a hospital.
You are given a local, regional, or general anesthetic. A local or regional anesthetic numbs part of your body while you remain awake. It should keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. You may be given a sedative with the local or regional anesthetic to relax you. A general anesthetic relaxes your muscles, puts you to sleep, and prevents you from feeling pain.
The healthcare provider may stretch open (dilate) your cervix using tools called cervical dilators. The cervix is the opening to your uterus. Your provider will guide the hysteroscope into your vagina, through the cervix, and into your uterus. Gas or fluid may be released through the scope to inflate your uterus. This helps your provider see inside the uterus better. Your provider will use a small laser or other tool to remove or destroy the lining of the uterus.
You may stay in the hospital several hours or overnight if necessary.
After the procedure you may:
Many women who have this procedure will no longer have any menstrual bleeding. Some will keep having periods but they will be reduced to normal or light bleeding. You will probably not be able to get pregnant after this procedure. If you do get pregnant, the risk of miscarriage and other problems is much higher. If you have concerns about this, discuss them with your healthcare provider. Your provider may advise you to use birth control until after menopause.
Ask your provider how to care for yourself after the procedure and when you should come back for a checkup.
Bleeding from the uterus should stop because the lining of the uterus has been removed. Hysteroscopy is a short procedure and has a quick and easy recovery. This procedure can help you avoid the discomfort, hospitalization, expense, and longer recovery of a hysterectomy.
A hysteroscopy is a very safe procedure and rarely has complications. Possible complications may include:
Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you.
Call your provider right away if:
Call during office hours if: