The ultrasound scanning is an important part of Reproductive Medicine assessments. It gives the information about the lining of the womb and the number and size of follicles, and any existing pathology, such as cysts or fibroids. This helps to decide the further stages of treatment.
Does it hurt?
Ultrasound scanning is not painful and are internal. The scans involve a special probe, which is cleaned before use, that be inserted into the vagina. Some patients may find it a little uncomfortable, but it is not as bad as a smear test.
The ultrasound scans are performed transvaginally because they can be done with an empty bladder. The scans provide a better image of the pelvic organ. It is important that you have an empty bladder for this test. Please go to the toilet before your scan
How long will it take?
The examination will take approximately 10 minutes. It is not painful. A probe is inserted into the vagina. The womb and ovaries can be seen on the screen. The scan will be performed by a sonographer (a medical professional trained to use diagnostic scanning equipment) or a doctor.
Will I have to undress?
Yes, you have to undress from the waist down and lie on the ultrasound couch and also to bend knees to insert the ultrasound probe.
When are the scans performed and what are you looking for?
There are many scans to be taken during the treatment and the fist scan should be done at any time of the menstrual cycle. This scan is called a ‘baseline’ scan and is to document any pathology within the uterus or ovaries before the treatment begins. The ones who are using stimulation drugs, have to get repeated scan and blood tests at an interval of 2- 3 days till the size of the needed follicle is measured.
Can my partner stay with me?
You can bring your partner into the scan room. On some days there may be a Trainee in the ultrasound room, either to just watch the scan or to have practice at scanning but we will ask your permission first.
What if I am unsure about something?
To help you understand what we say, we have listed some words with explanations below:
- Endometrium: The lining of the womb. We measure this each time you are scanned. It is thin when you are on your period and thickens in response to the medication or your menstrual cycle.
- Uterus: the womb.
- Follicles: These are in the ovaries and are what develop eggs as they grow. The follicles grow in response to the medication. The follicles need to be a certain size before you are ready to go to the theatre for egg retrieval, Intrauterine Insemination or Induction of Ovulation.
- Cysts: These are little sacs of fluid, blood or other components. Sometimes we see them on the baseline scan.
- Hydrosalpinx: It can be a side effect of the medication or when associated with blocked fallopian tubes.
- Fibroids: Thickened lumps of muscle within the muscle of the uterus.
- Polyps: Benign (non-cancerous) growths that can be found on the lining of the womb and may cause problems with the embryo implanting easily.