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What is Hysteroscopy?
One of things you find out when you work in women’s health is that there are all kinds of tests that end with the suffix –oscopy: Colposcopy, Vulvoscopy, Hysteroscopyetc..etc..etc. What all these procedures have in common is that they allow your OBGYN to look directly at some part of your reproductive system and literally SEE if there is cause for concern. Today we will be looking at the Hysteroscopy and when it can be helpful for you and your OBGYN.
What is a Hysteroscopy?
A hysteroscopy allows your doctor to look at the lining of your uterus. He or she uses a thin viewing tool called a hysteroscope – a tiny camera on the end of a long thin tube. The tip of the hysteroscope is put into your vagina and gently moved through the cervix, the tiny opening at the base of the uterus. The hysteroscope has a tiny light and camera hooked to it so your doctor can see the lining called the endometrium. Through the thin tube that makes up the body of the hysteroscope the doctor can insert different medical interments to help take biopsies, place birth control devices, remove tissue, fibroids and polyps or stop bleeding.
Why would I need a Hysteroscopy?
There are a number of medical conditions, which can best be assessed and treated by you OBGYN looking directly at the inside of your uterus.
Infertility Issues: If you are young and healthy but you and your partner are having trouble conceiving then going in and taking a look around makes sense. It allows the doctor to see if there are problems with the uterine walls that might be slowing your progress toward parenthood. Visually checking the state of your fallopian tubes is also key in this situation.
Irregular Bleeding & Cramping: Your OBGYN may recommend taking a look around your uterus if you are having unusual cramping and / or irregular bleeding. Going in with he Hysteroscope allows them to look for growths like polyps or fibroids that might be causing the symptoms. They can sometimes remove polyps or fibroids though the hysteroscope in some cases. Doctors can also go in and stop excess bleeding using a heated tool inserted through the hysteroscope, which can cauterize areas of irregular bleeds. They can also take small tissue samples to be examined in the laboratory to check for signs of endometrial cancer, which is also a concern in some cases.
Assisting with Long Term or Permanent Birth Control: The Hysteroscopy is also used to implant tiny devices into the fallopian tubes, which cause them to close creating permanent birth control without the need for more invasive surgery like Tubal Ligation. This birth control procedure is call the Essure procedure and has become the state of the art in permanent birth control in the last few years. Using a Hysteroscope allows your doctor to see where the devices need to be placed and to insert them through the scope.
Preparing for a Hysteroscopy
There are a few things that you need to be aware of in the days before you see your GYN for a hysteroscopy.
Scheduling: Timing is important when setting up a hysteroscopy. The week right after you have your period is the best time because the doctor can get the best view of the uterine lining. If you are regular with your cycle then try to set up your appointment for that week.
Anesthesia: Make sure your OBYN is aware of any allergies regarding anesthesia or numbing medications. Depending on your doctor’s staff and equipment you may want to be awake or asleep during the procedure, especially if you will be having other procedures at the same time. Discuss different options for anesthesia with your doctor in advance. This may effect whether you can eat or drink the eight hours before your appointment.
Pre hysteroscopy restrictions: If you start your period in the days right before you exam is scheduled you will need to reschedule. Menstrual blood will obstruct the doctors ability effectively do the test. Also, refrain from intercourse the 24 hours before the exam. Fluids can also interfere with the test.
Are there Risks?
Of course, with any procedure there are some minimal risks. Because your cervix would be dilated a little during the procedure you have a slight risk of infection. If you have fever over 101 degrees in the days after the procedure or unusual cramping you should contact you doctor as soon as possible. Also, whenever someone has anesthesia there are risks related to medication. You should discuss these risks with your doctor before your procedure.
Depending on what tests are performed during your hysteroscopy you results may be immediate – or a week or so if biopsies are sent to the lab.
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