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Myths About Transvaginal Ultrasound; It’s Significance as a Diagnostic Tool

Dr. Saba Aslam

3 min read

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What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to create pictures of your internal organs. Ultrasounds help rule out causes behind pain in any specific part of the body or diagnose various conditions and diseases.

What is a transvaginal ultrasound?

The word transvaginal means through the vagina. This means that transvaginal ultrasounds use probes and instruments that are inserted in a woman’s body through her vagina to take a closer look at her pelvic area.

For other types of ultrasounds, the ultrasonic wand or probe stays outside the women’s body. It helps take a look at internal organs if the technician keeps moving it back and forth on the skin. Transvaginal ultrasounds are also known as endovaginal ultrasounds.

What are some common myths about transvaginal ultrasounds?

1. Transvaginal ultrasounds are painful

Most women fear getting a transvaginal ultrasound done because they have a preset notion that transvaginal ultrasounds are painful. It is not true at all, transvaginal ultrasounds may make a woman uneasy or uncomfortable for a few minutes but they do not cause any kind of pain. In fact, transvaginal ultrasounds are way less uncomfortable than pelvic exams and pap smears.

2. Transvaginal ultrasounds can harm your unborn baby

The probe or ultrasonic wand (transducer) used for transvaginal ultrasound only goes 3 to 4 inches deep in the vaginal canal. So there is no possibility of the probe reaching your unborn fetus’s amniotic sac. As far as ultrasonic waves are concerned regarding harming your baby, many studies have proved that ultrasonic waves are completely safe for the baby.

3. Transvaginal ultrasounds can damage your pelvic organs

It is a common misconception that the probe inserted in the vaginal canal while performing transvaginal ultrasounds is capable of damaging your pelvic organs. It is not true at all because the probe goes only 3 to 4 inches inside so it doesn’t reach any organs. However, the bleeding that occurs to some women after a transvaginal ultrasound may be a result of slight wear and tear of vaginal walls.

4. Transvaginal ultrasounds cause miscarriages

Transvaginal ultrasounds are not capable of making any changes to your unborn fetus. So if a miscarriage occurs to someone after a transvaginal ultrasound there may be other medical explanations behind it.

5. Frequent transvaginal ultrasounds can be harmful for patients

One of the greatest myths about transvaginal or any kind of ultrasounds is they should never be performed frequently. If a person gets frequent ultrasounds done due to any reason they will suffer from damages due to the waves that ultrasounds use. It is definitely not true because the sound waves used in ultrasonic procedures are harmless. So no matter how many times an ultrasound is performed it shouldn’t cause any changes to your body by any means.

Significance of transvaginal ultrasound as a diagnostic tool

There are dozens of conditions or situations where a woman is recommended to get a transvaginal ultrasound done. Some of those are:

  • Transvaginal ultrasounds are recommended to pregnant women to take a closer look at their baby’s growth.
  • If a gynecologist suspects that a woman’s baby has planted itself outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy) they will recommend a transvaginal ultrasound to be certain.
  • Transvaginal ultrasounds help detect pregnancy in the earliest stages.
  • Complications like miscarriage and premature delivery can also be predicted using a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Placenta previa (a condition where the placenta is lying low and needs to be treated immediately) can be identified with the help of a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Abnormalities within the fetus can also be detected with the help of a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • The reasons behind a woman’s infertility can also be ruled out with the help of a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Unexplained pelvic pain and continuous bleeding are some problems that transvaginal ultrasounds can help diagnose and treat.
  • Any kind of infections or cancer within the fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries, cervix, bladder, and vagina can be detected with a transvaginal ultrasound. 
  • Women suffering from PCOS are advised to get transvaginal ultrasounds done to help their doctor take a closer look at their fibroids and cysts.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound can also help see if an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device) has been rightly placed.

What is the procedure for a transvaginal ultrasound?

If your doctor suspects something abnormal OR suspicious that they think must be ruled out in your pelvic area they will recommend you to get a transvaginal ultrasound done. If need be they will refer you to a specific sonologist too.

When you visit the sonologist, they will either take you in right away or may schedule an appointment for your ultrasound later. Before the day of your appointment confirm with your sonologist if they want your bladder to be full or empty on the procedure day.

If they want it to be full, try drinking 20 to 30 oz of water two hours before the procedure. After you reach the sonologist’s office, you will be taken to the procedure room where you will need to change your bottoms or take them off entirely and lie down on the exam table next to a screen.

Your sonologist will sit right next to you and begin the sonogram/ultrasound by putting a condom on the probe. Then they will squeeze some gel on the probe to lubricate it. Next, you will be asked to raise your legs like you do in a pelvic exam. Then a probe will be gently pushed into your vagina.

It may make you feel uncomfortable but it won’t be painful at all. The sonologist will start moving the probe gently to capture images of the areas requested by your doctor. The collected images will appear on the screen placed in front of the sonologist.

The sonologist will continue moving the probe until they are done collecting all the required images. Transvaginal ultrasounds usually take 20 to 40 minutes to complete depending on the reason why they are being performed.

Once the ultrasound is complete you can schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the findings and your report. They will take a thorough look at your report and if the need be they will start medications or other treatments right away.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Saba Aslam
Dr. Saba Aslam - Author Dr. Saba Aslam is one of the best Radiologist in Lahore. Not only does she have a number of certifications including M.B.B.S. and F.C.P.S. but She also has 8 years of experience in her field. She has a high success rate with patients.

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