Pelvic ultrasound for women is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses sound waves to produce images of the organs within the female pelvis. For women, this includes the bladder, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and vagina. Pelvic ultrasound can reveal details that x-rays cannot, such as the internal structure of organs and pockets of fluid.
Your doctor might order this test to identify abnormalities, help diagnose a condition, or monitor your baby’s growth in the womb. When done as part of an annual health screening, it can help to identify potential issues sooner and enable earlier treatment or management measures to be taken.
What Are The Different Types Of Pelvic Ultrasound Used For Women?
For women, there are two types of pelvic ultrasound that are performed to examine the health of the organs. Each type targets different organs and serves a particular purpose.
- Transabdominal (through the abdomen), examines organs from the outer belly through a transducer which is passed back and forth over the lower belly.
- Transvaginal (through the vagina), examines reproductive organs from inside the vagina with the use of a long, thin transducer that is covered with the conducting gel and a plastic/latex sheath and is inserted into the vagina. This test can show the lining of the uterus as well as its structure.
What Are The Reasons For Getting A Pelvic Ultrasound?
For women, the most common use of a pelvic ultrasound is to monitor baby’s growth during pregnancy. A pelvic ultrasound may be used to evaluate the following:
- Find the cause of urinary problems.
- Evaluate or treat fertility problems.
- Discover the cause of pelvic pain.
- Look for causes of vaginal bleeding and menstrual problems.
- Identify abnormalities in the anatomic structure of the uterus, including endometrial conditions.
- Check for pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection of the female reproductive organs)
- Check for growths or masses like noncancerous tumors, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids.
- Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy (a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus).
- Confirm the stage of the pregnancy and check the baby’s heartbeat.
- Find a tissue sample to remove from your uterus during an endometrial biopsy
- Look for the correct placement of an intrauterine device (IUD).
How Long Does It take?
A pelvic ultrasound can take 15 to 30 minutes, and the results are typically ready in about 24 hours or within a few days.
What Are The Risks And Potential Complications?
A pelvic ultrasound is a safe, reliable imaging exam with no known risks. It is non-invasive and does not use any sort of radiation for imaging. It is also safe to perform transvaginal ultrasound during pregnancy – for both the mother and the fetus. A pelvic ultrasound does not cause pain, although you might feel some pressure and some discomfort during a transvaginal ultrasound when the transducer is inserted. This feeling should go away after the exam.
Transvaginal ultrasound sometimes requires a latex covering on the ultrasound transducer, which may cause an allergic reaction in people with a latex allergy. If you have a latex allergy, be sure to tell the sonographer before the exam. The sonographer can use a different kind of protective cover.
What Happens After A Pelvic Ultrasound Examination?
There is no special care required after a pelvic ultrasound. You should be able to resume your normal diet and activity right after the test unless your doctor advises you differently. Your doctor may give you special instructions based on the findings of the ultrasound.
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This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.