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How To Prepare For A Pelvic Ultrasound

Requiring a pelvic ultrasound can be quite daunting. One excellent way to stay calm and feel better about any task is to make sure you are fully prepared for it. This post aims to act as a guide to help you understand more about pelvic ultrasound as well as providing knowledge on how best to prepare for one.


What Is A Pelvic Ultrasound?

In order to fully know how to prepare for a pelvic ultrasound, it will help to understand what it actually is and what it involves. An ultrasound itself is simply an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to generate a picture of the inside of your body – without the use of x-rays. A pelvic ultrasound is just an ultrasound of the pelvis. It is used to produce images that are used to assess organs and structures within the pelvis. 

There are three types of pelvic ultrasound: 

  • Abdominal (Transabdominal) – A transducer is placed on the abdomen using the conductive gel.
  • Vaginal (Transvaginal) – A long, thin transducer is covered with the conducting gel and a plastic/latex protective covering and is inserted into the vagina.
  • Rectal (Transrectal) – A small transducer is inserted into the rectum after being covered with conducting gel and a plastic/latex protective covering. Usually used for men in order to provide imaging of the prostate gland.


Why Do We Get A Pelvic Ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound is very useful as it provides a quick picture of the female pelvic organs and structures, like the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries etc. This is especially helpful as it can help assess the cause of problems that might exist, including; pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding and other menstrual issues that can occur. In addition, a pelvic ultrasound can also be used during a follow up to monitor or check a previously diagnosed condition, involving the womb or ovaries. Ultimately, the type of pelvic ultrasound procedure performed depends on the specific reason for your ultrasound, and sometimes, more than one method may be used to help get a better picture, if required.


How is a Pelvic Ultrasound performed?

In order to mentally prepare for your pelvic ultrasound it would help to understand what happens in a typical procedure. For a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound, you will be asked to lie down and position yourself on your back. You will then need to remove your clothing or gown to expose your abdomen and pelvic region. Tissue paper is used to protect your clothes from the gel applied to your abdomen. Once the gel has been applied, the transducer or probe will be placed on your abdomen and moved around to locate and get a picture of your pelvic organs. Pressure will be applied from time to time in order to get the best results of the ultrasound which might be a little uncomfortable, but quite often this is not the case.


Now for a transvaginal pelvic scan on the other hand, you will need to ensure that you empty your bladder right before the procedure. You will then be asked to undress from the waist down,  and lay on your back placed in a position that allows the exam to be performed easily. Next, the probe will be covered with a protective sheath together with a lubricating gel and gently inserted into your vagina. It is then gently moved around to get a clear picture of the uterus and ovaries. 


How To Prepare For Your Pelvic Ultrasound

Generally there isn’t much required with regard to preparing for a pelvic ultrasound. That said it depends upon what may follow your ultrasound. For example, if another procedure that follows your exam requires anesthesia, you may be required to fast beforehand. 


For a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound, you will need to drink two pints of clear non-fizzy fluids, e.g. water, at least one hour before your appointment. The reason for this is because, a full bladder makes your organs show up more clearly in the picture. Try not to empty your bladder until after the procedure, which is usually only around 15 to 30 minutes. 

For a transvaginal ultrasound however, as mentioned above you should empty your bladder – and right before the procedure. It is best to also wear loose and comfortable clothing to your examination, though you might need to wear a gown instead, depending on what is required. Your doctor will detail the whole procedure to you anyway as well as allow you to ask any questions you might have.

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