In earlier times, it was not so easy to examine the inner part of the body without having to make incisions and open up the body. Then we moved to Dilation and Curettage ( D &C), which also involved dilating or opening to take a look at the inner part of the body. These days, hysteroscopy is adopted. Hysteroscopy is a procedure that is used to examine the inside of the womb. It is carried out with a hysteroscope. A hysteroscope is an instrument that looks like a narrow telescope with a camera and light at the end. This hysteroscope is inserted through the vagina and passed into the womb. Due to the camera at its end, images are sent to a monitor so that the doctor can see the inside of your womb. This method is highly accepted because there is no cut made on the skin.

When is a hysteroscopy needed?

A hysteroscopy is carried out for the following reasons;

  • To treat conditions like polyps, remove fibroids, displaced intrauterine devices (IUDs) and intrauterine adhesions
  • To check symptoms or problems like abnormal vaginal bleeding, heavy menstrual flow or inability to get pregnant
  • To diagnose conditions like fibroids and polyps.

There is always the question of whether or not a hysteroscopy is painful. It can be mildly painful for some women, no pain in some and intense pain for others. A local anaesthetic may be used to reduce discomfort for those who would prefer not to be awake during this procedure.

What happens during a hysteroscopy?


Hysteroscopy is a procedure that usually lasts for about 5 – 30 minute; because of this, it might not be necessary to spend the night in the hospital after the procedure. However, before the actual procedure, you may be advised to;

  1. Use contraceptive to prevent pregnancy; hysteroscopy cannot be done if you are pregnant
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Have blood tests and pregnancy tests
  4. Take medication; this is applicable if you are removing fibroids; the medication will help shrink them before the procedure is carried out.


Being a very short procedure, an anaesthetic is not required. Also, there is no cut to be made on your skin. To reduce discomfort, painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken like an hour before the procedure. However, for a more serious case like the removal of fibroids, a general anaesthetic can be administered.

If you might be using a general anaesthetic, you will not have to eat or drink for a few hours before the procedure. If you are not, you can eat and drink normally. It is advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothes, as you might have to remove your clothes from your waist downwards.

The procedure

A hysteroscopy takes about 5 – 30 minutes. During the procedure;

  • You will lie on a couch with your legs in support and a sheet to cover your lower half.
  • Your vagina will be held open with an instrument called speculum
  • Your vagina and cervix will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution
  • The hysteroscope is inserted through your vagina to your womb
  • The fluid is pumped into the womb to make view easier for the doctor.
  • The camera transmits pictures which the doctor views to spot any abnormalities

Often, a tissue sample can be collected for further testing. This is known as endometrial biopsy. If you are having fibroids or polyps removed, the surgical instruments are passed along the hysteroscope to cut and remove the tissues.

After the procedure

You can return home the same time day after the procedure, provided there are no complications. However, if anaesthetic was used on you, you might need to call someone to drive you home.

Findings from the procedure will be discussed with you by the doctor, but it might take a few weeks before the results of the biopsy will be released to you. You might also need to take things easy for a couple of days after the procedure, especially if you had a general anaesthetic.


After the procedure, as you go through the recovery process, you might experience cramps, that is similar to period cramps, which will pass after some days. Although you might need to take some painkillers. Also, you might experience bleeding or spotting that can last up to a week or more. You can avoid tampons and use sanitary pads to avoid the risk of infection.

These are all normal and will pass with time. But you must contact your doctor if they become severe.

While recovering, you can be advised by your doctor in some ways, like avoiding sexual intercourse until bleeding stops. But you can eat and drink normally.

Risks of hysteroscopy

Like every other medical procedure, some complications can arise during or after the procedure. They include;

  1. Accidental damage to the cervix
  2. Accidental damage to the womb
  3. Excessive bleeding
  4. Infection of the womb

These complications are uncommon and can be easily treated. However, in case of bleeding, the womb might have to be removed, but this can happen very rarely. Hysteroscopy is carried out only when the benefits are higher than the risks.