What it's like having a transvaginal ultrasound

Tonight I'm having a transvaginal ultrasound (or pelvic ultrasound) to check on my ovarian cysts and my womb. My periods have always been painful, but the last 3-4 months have been off the hook. Or rather, it feels like I'm on one! Ouch.

I've had several transvaginal ultrasounds during check ups on my reproductive health and also in both my ectopic pregnancies.

So, what does the probe they use look like?

Photo source
I call it a light saber! The one they use on me is similar to this but not the same. I always have a female sonogram technician, which is nice. Before I go into the room I have a pee, as this scan is best on an empty bladder. She gets me to strip from the waist down behind a curtain and put a blanket over my tummy, then she comes in when I'm in place. I lean back on the bed - which is reclined slightly so my pelvis is naturally tilted forward - and bend my legs and part them, as if in a stirrups position.

They put a protective sheath over the probe, lube it up really generously and pop it where the sun doesn't shine. Does it hurt? It hurts me a little, yes, because I have quite a lot going on downstairs. My whole vaginal area is sore when I'm on my period (and at other times) so it's uncomfortable when it's going in. The worst pain for me is when it's pressed to the left and right to capture images of the left and right sides. This pain makes me come over all hot, sweaty and nauseous, but it's over quickly and it's necessary to see what's going on. The whole procedure only takes a couple of minutes and the sonographer tells me what's going on at every step. In fact, taking off my clothes and putting them back on probably takes longer than the actual procedure itself. You can have the procedure when you're on your period, and the sonographer is always very reassuring about it being OK to bleed over the bed as it's covered in a paper roll. She gives me tissues to wipe with (there's so much lube used it can feel quite alarming down there) and tells me to leave the tissues on the bed and she scrunches them all up together and puts them in the waste bin. It's all very no-fuss, we're all girls together stuff and not at all embarrassing. Medical staff need to be reassuring when it comes to matters below the belt and the NHS have been brilliant for this. I can ask my sonographer any questions about the size of my cysts (she measures them during the scan) and she asks questions about my periods etc to best determine what's going on.

I have ovarian cysts and thickening of the womb lining, both of which can be causes of concern with regards to cancer. My cysts have changed often in size and appearance leading my specialist to be concerned previously with cancer risk. A time back he wanted to remove the offending ovary, but at the time James and I were still vacillating about whether we wanted kids or not so I said no. How I regret that now! If my cysts have got very large again (which would explain the pain) and the womb lining has thickened more I'm going to ask to be referred back to the specialist and I'll ask for a hysterectomy. If it's safe for them to leave one ovary behind (the one without huge cysts) I would prefer that as I won't go into full menopause, but if it's enough of a risk I will happily accept a full hysterectomy and HRT. I'm sick of the pain and the risk of cancer hanging over my head.

Here's an NHS leaflet which explains more about transvaginal ultrasounds. Any questions?

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