Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a minor surgical procedure used to remove tissue from the uterus (womb). The uterus is the organ at the top of the vagina. Babies grow in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus.
Dilation opens and widens the cervix (the opening of the uterus). Curettage (scraping) is used to remove tissue from inside the uterus.
D&C may be done to:
Examples of alternative procedures are:
Another alternative is to choose not to have any procedure. Be aware of the possible risks of your condition if you choose to not have a procedure. You should ask your healthcare provider about these choices.
Plan for your care and recovery after the procedure, especially if you are to have general anesthesia. Arrange to have someone take you home and stay with you for a while after the procedure. Allow for time to rest. Try to find people to help you with your daily duties for 24 hours after the procedure.
Follow your 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.
Follow any other instructions provided by your healthcare provider. 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 and the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
You will be given a sedative or a regional or general anesthetic. A sedative helps you relax. A regional anesthetic numbs part of your body, keeping you from feeling pain while you stay awake. A general anesthetic relaxes your muscles and puts you to sleep. It will keep you from feeling pain during the procedure.
Your healthcare provider stretches open (dilates) your cervix and guides a scooplike instrument called a curette into the uterus. Your provider uses the curette to scrape all around the lining of the uterus and remove tissue. This tissue is usually sent to the lab for tests.
You can usually go home a few hours after the procedure if there are no complications. Expect some bleeding and menstrual-type cramps for the first day or so. Your healthcare provider may suggest a pain medicine to relieve the discomfort. Women who are still having periods usually have their next period on schedule after the D&C.
Follow your provider's instructions about when you can have sexual intercourse. Do not put anything inside the vagina until your provider says it’s safe. Don’t use tampons for a few weeks after the D&C.
Your provider will tell you what other steps you should take and when you should return for a follow-up visit.
Removing and testing tissue from the uterus may help diagnose or treat your problem.
You should ask your healthcare provider how these risks might apply to you.
Call your provider right away if:
Call during office hours if: