Reasons to Get a Pelvic Ultrasound

Written by Tim Stout on

A pelvic ultrasound may diagnose and treat many female conditions, including endometriosis, cervical cancer, and infertility.

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A pelvic ultrasound may diagnose and treat many female conditions, including endometriosis, cervical cancer, and infertility.

A pelvic ultrasound is an imaging test that looks at organs and tissues inside a female’s pelvis. This test allows your doctor to view your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Your doctors may recommend a pelvic ultrasound if you are having symptoms that are affecting female organs.

Here are the top reasons for having a pelvic ultrasound and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center to make an appointment for this test.

To Detect Or Insert An IUD

Your doctor may use pelvic ultrasound to insert an intrauterine device (IUD) into your uterus. An IUD is a tiny T-shaped birth control device that helps prevent pregnancy. An IUD must be carefully and correctly positioned in your uterus for it to work.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), inserting an IUD can cause pain and discomfort. However, the insertion process can be made faster and less uncomfortable with the help of pelvic ultrasound. Your doctor can use this test to insert an IUD and ensure it's in the right place. That can help you avoid unwanted pain and discomfort.

Pelvic ultrasound can also help your doctor see if you already have an IUD. That can be useful if you can’t remember if you ever got one.

If you are thinking about getting an IUD for birth control, look for a doctor who uses pelvic ultrasound. That can help you avoid any related pain or discomfort.

To Find the Cause Of Bleeding After Menopause

Some women may experience vaginal bleeding after menopause. Bleeding after menopause may be caused by hormone therapy and uterine polyps. It may also be caused by cancers that affect the cervix or uterus. If you are bleeding after menopause, your doctor may use pelvic ultrasound to investigate it.

Bleeding that occurs after menopause is usually caused by benign polyps that grow in the uterus. Benign means non-cancerous. These polyps can often be removed with surgery or treated with medications that shrink the polyps. That can help reduce your symptoms. Your polyps may even go away on their own over time.

Your doctors may do another test later on after you receive treatment for bleeding after menopause. That is to confirm your treatment was effective.

To Evaluate Growths Inside the Pelvis

Cysts, fibroids, and polyps are common types of masses that grow in the female pelvis. Many of these growths are benign, though some of them may be caused by cancer. Some growths can even lead to pregnancy problems, especially if they are growing on the organs in your pelvis.

A pelvic ultrasound can help your doctor evaluate and monitor these types of growths. Benign masses can be removed with surgery or medication or may go away on their own. Common symptoms of cysts, fibroids, and polyps include bloating, pelvic pain, and abnormal bleeding. Your doctor may use pelvic ultrasound to identify growths that may be causing these symptoms.

To Diagnose An Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy happens when an egg implants itself and grows outside the uterus. In a healthy pregnancy, the egg implants itself and grows inside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is dangerous and can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Pelvic pain, shoulder pain, and heavy bleeding are common symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. It may also cause dizziness, fainting, and shock. The only way to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy is with a blood test and pelvic ultrasound.

A pelvic ultrasound can help your doctor see exactly where the egg has gotten implanted. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, a pelvic ultrasound can help guide treatment. Ectopic pregnancy is usually treated with surgery to remove the ectopic tissue.

To Assess and Monitor Pregnancy

Pelvic ultrasound is done during pregnancy to monitor the fetus. It can also help monitor certain pregnancy conditions in the mother. For instance, ultrasound may be used to monitor the baby’s growth and confirm its due date.

A pelvic ultrasound during pregnancy may also be used to:

  • Verify the number of babies
  • Confirm the location of the placenta
  • Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage
  • Examine the anatomy of the pelvis
  • Look for signs of fetal problems
  • Perform certain prenatal tests
  • Check the amount of amniotic fluid
  • Examine blood flow
  • Observe the baby’s activity levels
  • Measure the length of the cervix
  • Determine the position of the fetus

Ultrasound is also popular with parents who want to know the gender of their baby before it is born. If you are pregnant, your doctor can tell you how often you will need a pelvic ultrasound during pregnancy.

To Evaluate An Endometrial Condition

The endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus. Changes in hormone levels and many other factors can affect its health. These factors may cause one or more serious related conditions and diseases. A pelvic ultrasound can diagnose, evaluate, and treat endometrial problems.

Endometriosis, polyps, and infection are all common conditions that can be found and monitored with pelvic ultrasound. Adenomyosis, Asherman’s syndrome, and cancer are other related conditions that can be viewed with ultrasound. Treating these conditions is critical to reducing fertility problems.

See your doctor right away if you have severe pain during your period. Severe pain may occur during cramping, urinating, or bowel movements. You should also see your doctor if you are having a hard time getting pregnant. Your doctor can do a pelvic ultrasound to find out what is causing your symptoms.

To Monitor and Treat Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is where the female reproductive organs become infected. PID occurs when bacteria spread from the vagina to other female organs after sexual activity. That includes the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.

A pelvic ultrasound is one of several tests your doctors may do if they think you have PID. If you have PID, your doctors may do another test after treatment to see if your infection is gone. Symptoms of PID include pelvic pain and abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding. Fever, pain during intercourse, and difficulty with urination are other common PID symptoms.

To Conduct a Biopsy

A biopsy is a medical test where your doctor takes a small sample of tissue from your body. Your tissue sample is then sent to a lab to get checked for diseases like cancer.

A pelvic ultrasound makes it easy for your doctor to do a biopsy without affecting other tissues or organs. If your doctor finds a tumor, they can use this test to guide the needle into the tumor and remove tissue or fluid for the biopsy.

To Conduct and Monitor Fertility Treatments

Your doctor may do regular ultrasounds if you are having fertility treatment. Pelvic ultrasound can help retrieve eggs from your ovaries for in vitro fertilization (IVF). It can also help see whether your fallopian tubes remain open or if you have any eggs left in your ovaries.

Ultrasound can’t always be used on its own to find fertility problems. However, it may be used with other diagnostic tests to confirm problems. Your doctor may also use it to look at your reproductive organs during fertility treatment. For example, this test may help measure the growth of follicles in the ovaries. Or, it can measure the thickness of the lining of your uterus.

More About Pelvic Ultrasound Testing

Pelvic ultrasounds are non-invasive and produce no radiation. There are two types of pelvic ultrasound: transabdominal and transvaginal. Transabdominal means through the abdomen. Transvaginal means through the vagina.

During the abdominal ultrasound, your doctor rubs gel on top of your abdomen and places a wand over it to view your pelvic area. During the vaginal ultrasound, your doctor places a long, thin wand into your vagina to view your pelvic area. The abdominal ultrasound is not painful or uncomfortable. However, the vaginal ultrasound may cause slight discomfort in some females.

A pelvic ultrasound can be used on nearly any female. However, doctors do not usually recommend it for those with severe obesity, intestinal gas, or an empty bladder. Your doctor may recommend drinking about 24 ounces of water an hour before your test. That can help your doctor see your pelvic organs and tissues more clearly.

If you need to have an ultrasound, your doctor can give you more details about preparing for the test. Your doctor can also discuss its pros and cons, and what it can and cannot do for your health condition. Your doctor can also recommend another non-invasive test if you do not want an ultrasound.

Ultrasound and Imaging Services At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Care offers ultrasound testing, including pelvic ultrasound. Contact us at any time or visit our provider page to learn more about our ultrasound services and many other imaging and radiology services. Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a wide variety of healthcare services and is devoted to providing quality health care for you and your family.