An Indian research study shows infertility is associated with a higher risk of developing cancer in women of childbearing age. The findings also reveal that an overall 18 percent of infertile women are at the risk of developing cancer.

Women often fail to understand is that women suffer from complications such as heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain which may be caused by endometriosis, unsuccessfully treated pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), adenomyosis or fibroid. Women are apprehensive of discussing these problems. To cure all these problems, doctors often recommend a hysteroscopy.

What is a hysteroscopy?

The procedure to diagnose and treat the problems of the uterus or womb is known as a hysteroscopy. The procedure derives its name from the usage of a device known as a hysteroscope. Hysteroscope is a thin, telescope-like camera with a light mounted on top of it. It is inserted into the vagina via the vagina.

It should be kept in mind that a hysteroscopy cannot be performed if you are on your period.

What are the types of hysteroscopy?

A hysteroscopy is performed to diagnose or treat problems of the uterus or womb. There are two types of hysteroscopy the doctor performs depending on the need-

Diagnostic hysteroscopy- To diagnose any abnormal structure or growth, the doctor performs a diagnostic hysteroscopy. The reasons to undergo a diagnostic hysteroscopy are-

  • To check the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding.
  • To diagnose the cause of repeated miscarriages.
  • To diagnose conditions such as fibroids or polyps.
  • To find out the issues related to infertility.
  • To diagnose the cause for pelvic pain
  • Operative hysteroscopy- After the diagnosis, if the doctor finds out that something needs to be operated then he might do the same with the help of a hysteroscope. The doctors perform the procedure for the following causes-
  • To take out fibroids and other abnormal growths.
  • To remove adhesions (scars that occur after infection/surgery which binds tissues together inside the womb).
  • To remove intrauterine devices used for birth control.
  • To perform a sterilization procedure.
  • To take tissue for a biopsy.

How a hysteroscopy is performed?

Prior to surgery- To help you relax before the surgery, the doctor will give you medication such as a sedative. General or local anesthesia can also be given depending on the situation to ease out the pain. To insert the hysteroscope easily into the cervix, medication is often inserted to open or dilate it.

The procedure- To open the vagina wide open, an instrument called speculum is inserted into it. This makes it easier for the doctor to insert the hysteroscope into the cervix. After this, carbon dioxide gas or fluid is pumped through the device into the vagina to help the doctor view inside the lining of the uterus more clearly. The doctor navigates the hysteroscope accordingly by viewing the images projected on a video screen captured by the mounted camera.

Depending on the requirement, further steps are performed.

  • For diagnostic purposes, doctors observe the images and look for the causes of the problems.
  • For surgical purposes, the hysteroscope is used to remove the abnormal growth.
  • For sterilization, implants such as birth control IUDs are placed.
  • For a biopsy, the doctor passes a small instrument through the hysteroscope that extracts a sample of the tissue.

On the basis of the purpose of hysteroscopy, it can take from 5 to 30 minutes to perform it. You may experience slight cramps when the hysteroscopy is performed.

What to do to recover?

Doctors often keep the patients at the clinic for monitoring until the effects of the anesthesia wear off.

It is quite natural if you experience mild cramping or bleeding. Ask for the doctor for painkillers if the pain persists.

Abstain from sex for at least fifteen days after the procedure. For a steady and faster recovery, doctors provide their patients with a set of instructions so that they can resume their daily activities as soon as possible. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • After treatment, wounds need to be taken care of. Hence, keeping a pillow or sweater between car seat-belt and the abdomen helps to reduce pressure on wounds.
  • Sometimes after surgery, the patient may feel nauseated. It is recommended to carry a bag or bowl when you travel.
  • To relieve gas pain that is caused due to the trapped carbon-dioxide which was, drinking peppermint tea helps.
  • Individuals should consume broths or soups for a day or two. Then patients slowly shift towards the consumption of high-fiber foods such as pears, bananas, carrots, red or white kidney beans, whole-wheat pasta or bread is advised. Green, leafy vegetables that are filled with antioxidants should be incorporated in the diet plan. This allows smoother bowel movements and lowers the chances of constipation.
  • Drinking 1.5 – 2 liters of water daily aids in eliminating traces of anemia as well as prevent constipation.
  • Avoid trans and saturated fats like fats found in butter, margarine, salad dressing, fried foods, snack foods or sweets. Instead of regular oil, prepare food in vegetable oils such as olive oil or peanut oil which are good fats.

What are the complications after the hysteroscopy?

There is rarely any complication that occurs after a hysteroscopy. But in surgical options, there is a small risk of complications. Some of them are-

  • There can be damage to the womb
  • There can be damage to the cervix
  • Infections can occur in the womb
  • You might feel faint or dizzy
  • Excessive bleeding after the procedure

The bottom line

A hysteroscopy can be performed for diagnostic as well as surgical purposes. It is better if you follow some tips after the procedure to recover faster. Majorly there are no complications but in rare cases, these can develop. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you feel any fever, chills, heavy bleeding or severe pain!