Going to a gynecological consultation can be uncomfortable, especially if you do not know what you are going to do and how, even if it is just an annual checkup to see if everything is going well. Many women who come to the doctor’s office for an ultrasound have doubts about how it will be performed: external, through the abdomen, or internal, transvaginally.
This concern is heightened if they have not yet had an ultrasound before or if they have not had penetrative sex before the test. So, so that you can go to your next ultrasound with peace of mind, in this article I explain what a transvaginal ultrasound consists of.
Vaginal or transvaginal ultrasound is a type of scan that, by emitting high-frequency sound waves, creates an image of the inside of the body. It can be used to examine the female reproductive organs. By inserting the device through the vagina, the condition of the uterus, ovaries and cervix, for example, can be observed.
In many branches of medicine, ultrasound is used to establish reliable diagnoses, and it could not be less in the case of gynecology. Although in the rest of the specialties it is performed externally (passing the transducer over the skin), in this case it is performed internally, provided that the patient has had vaginal intercourse.
In a transvaginal ultrasound, the device is gently inserted through the vagina. To do this, the patient should lie on her back (what we call the gynecological position) or on her side with her knees bent. Once the patient is in position, an elongated terminal (it has the shape of a long finger of about 15cm and a width of 1cm) is introduced into the vagina, which allows the images of the vagina to be captured and the uterus and ovaries to be observed very closely.
I, personally, ask you to do directed respirations to facilitate the passage of the probe.
This type of ultrasound is the most indicated technique to establish gynecological pathologies such as myomas, polyps, ovarian cysts or tumors. In addition, it allows to observe:
It is usual to perform it during pregnancy in order to:
Other occasions in which transvaginal ultrasound is used are:
Vaginal ultrasound is a recurrent and simple test that does not require any special prior preparation. The only recommendation for the woman is to urinate before the ultrasound to make her more comfortable during the exam.
As for menstruation, it is not inconvenient to have your period to perform the ultrasound. In fact, during the bleeding period it is easier to assess a woman’s ovarian reserve.
Normally, when patients come for a transvaginal ultrasound, they are nervous because, in addition to the discomfort of the test, they are worried about the results. In itself, the test is not painful, but it can be a little uncomfortable. This discomfort can increase if these nerves are allowed to influence, since the calmer you are, the more relaxed the area will be and the less you will feel the transducer movements.
The transducer is much thinner than those used in external ultrasound examinations. It is approximately one finger in size and is covered with a condom and lubricating gel.
Once the test is completed, the patient returns to her daily life without any problems. The results of the examination are usually available one to two weeks after it is performed, at which time the gynecologist informs the patient of the results, either in person or, if it is nothing serious, online.
Whatever the reason you have to have a vaginal ultrasound, do not worry, it is a common test. Remember to go to the consultation calmly.
If you have never had sexual intercourse, the ultrasound will be done through the abdomen. To do this, I will need you to come with a strong urge to urinate.
There are times when the abdominal route does not allow us to see the pelvic anatomy correctly, in that case, I will ask you to go to the bathroom to urinate and we will assess together the performance of a transrectal ultrasound. This is almost less uncomfortable than the vaginal one and offers images similar to those obtained when performed transvaginally.
There are times when I will tell you that I cannot see the structures well, or that I need more data than what I see, and I will ask for a high-resolution gynecologic Doppler ultrasound or even a pelvic MRI.
Do not panic. Sometimes, as a consequence of the shadows of the tissues themselves, because of our body weight or even because we woke up that day with gas or diarrhea, it is difficult to properly assess the internal genital apparatus.
In all these cases, I will request complementary tests to get to the bottom of your problem.
Soy la doctora Bárbara Fernández del Bas, ginecóloga especialista en sexología, ginecología integrativa, funcional y medicina antienvejecimiento. Gracias a mi formación, la aproximación a mis pacientes siempre es de forma global. Soy consciente de que somos más que mamas, útero y ovarios. Somos un todo. Por eso, siempre busco los últimos avances científicos para ponerlos a disposición de toda mujer que los necesite