Hysteroscopy - an internal examination of your womb
A hysteroscopy is an examination of the lining and shape of your womb (uterus). We use a fine telescope, called a hysteroscope.
A hysteroscopy can help to find the cause of problems relating to:
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- irregular periods
- bleeding between periods
- bleeding after sexual intercourse
- bleeding after menopause
- persistent discharge
- scar tissue in the womb
Sometimes we can treat the problem at the same time. Problems that can be treated during a hysteroscopy are:
- fibroids (growths in the uterus which are not cancer)
- polyps (blood-filled growths which are not cancer)
- thickening of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium)
- removal of displaced intrauterine contraceptive devices
- removal of scar tissue
There are risks associated with any procedure and these will be explained to you.
The most common risks or complications from a hysteroscopy include:
- a hole or tear in your uterus. This is not common, but if it happens you may need an operation to repair the hole
- damage to your cervix (neck of your uterus). This is also not common but doesn't usually need surgery
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- difficulty seeing the cavity of the uterus meaning that we are unable to continue with the procedure, or we have repeat it at another time
You can have an ultrasound scan but it does not provide as detailed information as the hysteroscopy.
Your doctor will talk to you about other options.
Giving your permission (consent)
We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This states that you agree to have the treatment and you understand what it involves.
You can read more about giving your consent.
Preparing for a hysteroscopy
Your doctor or nurse explains the procedure to you and you can ask questions if there is anything you are unsure about. They will ask you:
- when you had your last period
- if you have any allergies
- whether you have had any reactions to any drugs or tests in the past
We may not be able to do the procedure if you are having a heavy period as this can make it difficult to see inside the uterus.
It is important that you follow all the instructions we give you. If you do not, we may have to cancel your procedure.
We will not perform a hysteroscopy if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
If you need to, make sure you use barrier contraception (condoms or a diaphragm) from the first day of your last period right up until the day of the hysteroscopy.
On the day of your procedure, we perform a pregnancy test on all sexually active women of childbearing age. You will be asked to give a urine (wee) sample for this. Your procedure will be cancelled if there is a possibility that you might be pregnant.
It's important that you stop smoking for at least 24 hours before your operation, to reduce the risk of chest problems. Smoking can also delay wound healing because it reduces the amount of oxygen that goes to the tissues.
We have a no-smoking policy in our hospitals. For your safety, we cannot allow you to leave the hospital to smoke.
Resource number: 0032/VER6
Last reviewed: February 2023
Next review due: February 2026