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What Is a Pelvic Ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to make pictures of the organs inside your pelvis. A pelvic ultrasound is used to view the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina, and bladder.

Why Might you need this test?

  • Evaluate the structure of your uterus or ovaries
  • Check intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Check for growths like tumors, fibroid, or cysts
  • Abnormal bleeding 
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (an infection of your uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes)

Preparation

If you are having a transabdominal ultrasound, your bladder will need to be full. You’ll need to drink about 32 ounces of water. A full bladder makes your organs show up more clearly. You can use the bathroom after the procedure.

A transvaginal ultrasound is done with an empty bladder. You’ll need to use the bathroom before the test. A transvaginal ultrasound, also called an endovaginal ultrasound, is a type of pelvic ultrasound. “Transvaginal” means “through the vagina.” This is an internal examination.

Wear loose, comfortable clothes to the exam. You might need to undress from the waist down for the procedure. You might need to wear a gown during the procedure.

How It’s Done

  • Transabdominal ultrasound is done through your abdomen. You lie on your back on an exam table. The technologist puts lubricating gel on the transducer. The gel helps the transducer move more smoothly and prevents air from getting between the device and your skin. The technologist gently runs the transducer back and forth over the skin of your belly.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound is done through the vagina. You lie on your back on an exam table. You might have your feet up in stirrups. The transducer is covered in gel and a plastic or latex covering. Then it’s inserted into your vagina, much like a tampon.

Risks

The test itself doesn’t have risks. Unlike X-rays, an ultrasound doesn’t use radiation.

A transabdominal ultrasound shouldn’t hurt. You might feel some discomfort during a transvaginal ultrasound when the transducer is inserted.

After the Ultrasound

A radiologist will analyze the ultrasound images and send a report to your doctor.

Your doctor will explain the test results to you.