Transvaginal Ultrasound: Video and Explanation

Until recent times, ultrasound of a female’s reproductive organs was done by and exterior ultrasound on the outside of the abdomen. The pictures of the ovaries and uterus were not always clear and the underside of the cervix was not able to be visualized. Nowadays, doctors are able to get a much better and clearer view of these structures using transvaginal ultrasound.

This article explains what this procedure is, how it is performed, how to get ready for the test and more. Included is a transvaginal ultrasound video.

What Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a test that uses sound on a very high-frequency that can create a picture of internal structures inside the body. Your tissues are made up of different densities and create a type of “echo” when sound hits them. The sound waves from an ultrasound pass through the soft tissue and when they encounter an organ, the density of tissue becomes thicker and causes the sound waves to “bounce off.” The machine can then read this and create a picture.

During a regular ultrasound, the technician will just roll the Doppler on the outside of your pelvic area on the skin of the lower stomach. When you have a transvaginal ultrasound, the Doppler or wand is placed inside your vagina in order to get a better picture of your cervix, vaginal canal, ovaries, and uterus.

Why Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound Done?

In a lot of cases, doctors can still use a regular external ultrasound if there is no question about what they need to see. In cases of transvaginal ultrasound, doctors are needing to see things very clearly. This is usually done for:

  • In very early pregnancy to check for fetal heartbeat
  • Cases where the ovaries are not working properly (infertility)
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Abnormal pap smears
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • To look for fibroids or cysts on the ovaries
  • Ectopic pregnancy (Pregnancy implants into the fallopian tubes, outside the uterus)
  • To check the cervix for problems that could cause a miscarriage
  • Too look at the placenta when you are bleeding during pregnancy
  • Too look for miscarriage

Getting Preparedfor a Transvaginal Ultrasound

The most important thing you need to tell your doctor prior to this examination is if you have never had sexual intercourse and are a virgin. If so, you will need to have an external ultrasound.

Prior to a transvaginal ultrasound, you will need to take all of your clothes off including your underwear. They will give you a hospital gown and sheet to cover up with. They may or may not need you to have a full bladder when you have the test, but ask your doctor to make sure. A full bladder can help give a clearer picture of the reproductive organs.

It is okay for you to still have the ultrasound done even if you are bleeding, spotting, or on your period. They use a special cover on the Doppler wand to keep it sanitary. The only thing is if you use tampons during your periods, it will need to be removed prior to the procedure being done.

If you are nervous or embarrassed, let your technician know and they can answer any questions and help you to feel comfortable about having the procedure done. This is a very common ultrasound examination these days. The procedure will not hurt you or your baby if you are pregnant. They use a special lubricant on the wand so that insertion will not be uncomfortable for you.

What Can I Expect During The Procedure?

Your technician or the doctor will have you lie on your back on the table. You will place your feet into stirrups. It is just like having a pelvic examination or Pap smear. The technician will cover the Doppler wand with a condom cover and then put some lubricant on the wand. They will insert it into your vagina and this may feel the same as having a speculum inserted. The wand is not too large and insertion isn’t painful.

They will rotate the wand to see the different areas and organs in the pelvis. This may feel like a little pressure. The Doppler will bounce sound waves off the reproductive organs and reads them. This is sent back to the ultrasound machine and the technician or doctor can see the pictures on the monitor. They will take a few pictures and measurements of what they need and the exam usually only takes 10 to 20 minutes.

There is another transvaginal ultrasound where they infuse saline into your uterus. This is known as a saline infusion sonography or SIS. A small tube will be place through your cervix and fills it with sterile saline. This can give the doctor a much better picture of the inside of the uterus and help the doctor see any tumors present in the uterus. This procedure is only performed on women who are not pregnant.

Here is a transvaginal ultrasound video to show you what they can see:

How Will I Know What They See?

If you have the transvaginal ultrasound done by a technician, they will not tell you anything they see. They cannot legally give you results or tell you anything about the examination. They will get the images and send them to a radiologist who will look at the pictures and give your doctor a report. They can also send your doctor a copy of the transvaginal ultrasound video. If the test is done by your actual doctor, they may be able to tell you what they see right away and point things out on the screen.

When you have this type of ultrasound, the doctor may be able to diagnose these things more easily:

  • Birth defects in a fetus
  • Low lying placenta in pregnancy
  • Reproductive cancer (ovarian, uterine)
  • Miscarriage
  • Cysts/Fibroid tumors
  • Infections

What Happens After The Procedure?

This test should not cause any pain and you can return to work or normal activity right after the test. Some people who have a sensitive cervix may experience light spotting that is pink or brown in color. This may last up to one or two days. The technician may give you a pad to put on after the exam if you need it. 

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