What is a Female Pelvic Ultrasound?
A female pelvic ultrasound is performed to examine the vital organs and structures within the female pelvis. This non-invasive diagnostic image allows for doctors to take a more in depth look into the uterus, cervix, bladder, fallopian tubes, ovaries and other structures; this will allow for an improved understanding of what is going on inside the body. There are two methods used when performing a pelvic ultrasound: transabdominal and transvaginal. Often, both methods are executed to have a complete female pelvic ultrasound, but only one method may be required depending on the circumstances and reasons for the ultrasound. A transabdominal ultrasound is performed by first applying conductive gel to the abdomen and then placing the ultrasound probe – known as the transducer – onto the abdomen. From here, an experienced ultrasound technician will guide the transducer around the abdomen in order to collect all the images that are needed. A transvaginal ultrasound is a very similar process except that the technician uses a different transducer that is long and thin in order to be inserted into the vagina.
When Would I Need A Female Pelvic Ultrasound?
There are numerous reasons as to why a female may need a pelvic ultrasound. The assessment can be used to evaluate the measurements and locations of specific organs or masses, and to assist in the diagnosing process of multiple conditions that females may be experiencing underlying symptoms for. Assessment of the pelvis through ultrasound may include, but is not limited to, the following reasons:
- Size, shape, and position of the uterus and the ovaries
- Diagnosing unexplained vaginal bleeding or post menopausal bleeding
- Length and thickness of the cervix
- Blood flow through the pelvic organs
- Fibroid tumours, masses, cysts, and other tumours that could be found within the pelvis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Infertility evaluations
- Ectopic pregnancies
- Abnormalities or changes to the shape of the bladder
- Diagnosing the cause of unexplained pelvic pain
What Steps must I Take to Prepare for a Pelvic Ultrasound?
If you are having a transabdominal ultrasound, you must drink a minimum of 4 to 6 glasses of clear fluid approximately one hour before your scheduled appointment, as you must have a full bladder. For a transvaginal ultrasound, the bladder must be voided right before the ultrasound appointment. If both assessments are being performed, you will have the transabdominal ultrasound first, leave to void your bladder, and then return back for the transvaginal assessment. In general, there are no fasting restrictions or other any other preparations. Your doctor will provide you with further instructions if needed and will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
What Should I Expect during the Ultrasound?
You may be asked to remove your clothing and objects such as jewellery that may interfere with the technician’s ability to perform the scan. In cases where you are asked to remove your clothes, a gown will be provided for you. You may experience slight discomfort and pressure with the transabdominal ultrasound due being examined on a full bladder, as well with the transvaginal when the probe is inserted into the vagina. Other than the small discomfort you may experience, a pelvic ultrasound is a low-risk and relatively pain-free diagnostic image that will help the doctor evaluate and understand the structures inside the pelvis.