Transvaginal ultrasound scan

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of an area of the body. 

This is a widely used diagnostic test to examine the pelvic organs such as uterus and ovaries. 

A transvaginal ultrasound scan can help to find the cause of a problem and can also be used to monitor an existing condition. 

Internal scans are closer to the body part being examined, and provide us with higher definition images which can help in making a more accurate diagnosis.

The ultrasound is carried out by a sonographer or radiologist, both are trained professionals in this type of scan. 

How to prepare

You do not need a full bladder for your scan. 

Having a period does not affect the examination. If you are using a tampon, this will need to be removed prior to the vaginal scan. 

You can continue to take any medicines prescribed by your doctor.

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your scan.

If you need a hoist (piece of medical equipment to help lift or move you safely), transport or a translator, please contact the radiology department.


A transvaginal ultrasound scan is a very safe procedure with no side effects.

Other treatment options

If you do not want an internal scan, you can have a transabdominal scan instead. 

A transabdominal scan is where a probe is pressed on the outside of your tummy. For this scan you will need a full bladder. You will have to drink at least 500ml of water to fill your bladder, 30 minutes before your appointment. If you cannot hold the water and need to pee, please try not to completely empty your bladder.

The sonographer or radiologist will ask you if you are happy for the scan to go ahead. If you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This states that you understand what it involves and agree to have the treatment. 

If you do not wish to have the scan or are undecided, please tell us. You can ask any questions before, during or after your scan. It is your decision and you can change your mind at any time. However not having the scan may delay your diagnosis as the doctors may not have all of the information that they need. 

A chaperone will be present for all intimate scans. You are welcome to bring a friend or family member to be present throughout the scan if you wish. 

Students or trainees may be present during the examination but only with your verbal consent. 

You can read more about our consent process.

During the transvaginal ultrasound scan

Your appointment is usually booked for 20 minutes. The scan itself usually takes a few minutes. This may vary depending on how clear the pictures are.

While we try to make sure that appointment times are kept, sometimes emergencies may need to take priority. We will inform you of any delays. Please be patient, but feel free to ask staff if you think you have been overlooked. 

You should allow 1 hour in total for your appointment.

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie down on a couch. 
  • We will cover you with a sheet. If you are wearing a skirt or dress, you may prefer to just remove your underwear.  
  • We will use paper tissue to cover your clothing to protect it from the gel.
  • We use an ultrasound probe which is covered with a protective sheath. We apply a small amount of lubricating gel to the probe, which is the width of a tampon. 
  • The probe is gently inserted into your vagina. 
  • The probe will be moved into different positions so we can look at the uterus and ovaries. 
  • The sonographer may also need to perform a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound, which is where some gel is applied to your lower abdomen and this area examined.
  • Once the scan is completed, we will give you tissue to wipe away the gel and you can put your clothes back on.
  • The lights in the room will be dimmed so that the pictures on the screen can be seen more clearly. 
  • Selected images will be recorded so that they can be viewed later. 


Unless you are already in pain due to your symptoms, a transvaginal ultrasound scan does not cause any pain. It is similar to having a smear test, but it should not be as uncomfortable.


Your scan will be reviewed and most often reported on the same day. The results will be sent back to your doctor who will discuss the report with you.

If your referring doctor is your GP then you should make an appointment for 2 weeks after your scan to discuss the results.

If your referring doctor is a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ then you should have an outpatient appointment arranged. If not, please contact them to arrange a time to talk about the results and any treatment you may need.

Resource number: 4657/VER2
Published date: March 2024
Review date: March 2027

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your ultrasound scan, please contact the Radiology Department

Phone: 020 7188 5490 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

  • choose option 1 to cancel and not rebook an appointment
  • choose option 2 to reschedule or book a new appointment
  • choose option 3 for results
  • choose option 4 for patient transport
  • choose option 5 for general enquiries

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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