What Is A Transvaginal Ultrasound?
Maybe your doctor thinks you have a cyst on your ovary and has ordered an ultrasound. Maybe your pregnancy test is positive and your doctor wants to do an ultrasound or you’ve been offered one at Collage to confirm that you’re really pregnant and establish a due date.
You’ve probably seen characters on television get ultrasounds, so you might be expecting a transabdominal ultrasound – for the doctor or sonographer (ultrasound technician) to put some gel on a curved probe and move it around on your stomach area. But if you’re in the early stages of pregnancy or if your doctor needs to get a really good look at your internal organs, a transabdominal ultrasound isn’t always sensitive enough. Your doctor will probably order a pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound.
So what’s that?
A transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound is an internal ultrasound.
What happens during this ultrasound?
The sonographer or doctor will ask you to undress from the waist down and put on a gown or cover your legs with a sheet. You’ll lie on an exam table with your knees bent. In this type of ultrasound, the transducer looks like a wand, a little bigger than a super tampon. The medical provider will cover the wand with a condom, then put some lubricating gel on the wand and insert it inside the vagina. The wand will produce sound waves that bounce off your internal organs to produce a picture, and the picture will display on a computer screen or TV monitor. The doctor or sonographer can see these images immediately, in real time.
Does it hurt?
Because the sonographer needs to move the wand around side to side, it may cause slight discomfort that usually feels like pressure. But that discomfort is temporary and will go away when the ultrasound ends. If your doctor is performing the ultrasound because of pelvic or abdominal pain, the internal ultrasound might cause more pain. Tell your doctor or the sonographer if the pain is severe during the ultrasound.
If I’m pregnant, what can the transvaginal ultrasound show?
The transvaginal ultrasound can confirm that you are pregnant, detect the baby’s heartbeat early in pregnancy, show the location and size of your uterus, and show whether you’re pregnant with more than one baby. A transvaginal ultrasound can also help detect an ectopic pregnancy more accurately, determine where any abnormal bleeding is coming from, or indicate any abnormalities in the placenta or with the cervix.
If I’m not pregnant, why would I need a transvaginal ultrasound?
A doctor may use a transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound to look for fibroids or cysts or polyps or endometriosis. If you have any abnormal bleeding, abnormal results from a pelvic exam, pelvic pain, or infertility, your doctor may order a transvaginal ultrasound to help figure out the cause.
Is it safe?
Vaginal ultrasounds are safe for both you and your baby, as long as your water hasn’t broken. If you’re allergic to latex or to any ingredients in lubricant gel, be sure to let your doctor know before the exam.
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable – this type of exam isn’t anyone’s favorite thing. But it will help if you’re prepared with what to expect. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or the sonographer. This is your body and your health, and you have the right to ask questions and have them answered.