What do you need to know about an endometrial biopsy? If your OBGYN recently recommended this type of test, take a look at the most common questions patients have about the procedure.
What Is An Endometrial Biopsy?
As the name implies, this is a biopsy of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). A biopsy is a common medical procedure used to assess cancer risk or detect other abnormalities. The OBGYN doctor will remove a small piece of endometrial tissue and send it to a lab for examination. The lab will look for cancerous cells, precancerous cells, or anything else abnormal.
Why Might You Need An Endometrial Biopsy?
Your doctor may recommend this test to look for endometrial cancer, uterine infection, or infertility issues. Symptoms that may lead your healthcare provider to suggest this test include abnormal menstrual bleeding (heavy or longer periods), absence of menstrual bleeding (before perimenopause), and vaginal bleeding after reaching menopause.
What Happens During This Procedure?
An endometrial biopsy is usually done in the OBGYN's office or at an outpatient medical facility. This procedure won't require general anesthesia or an operating room. The beginning of this procedure is similar to what you may already have experienced during a regular gynecological exam.
You will undress from the waist down, lie down on the exam table, and put your feet into the stirrups. The doctor will use a speculum to open the vagina and will clean the cervix. Some medical providers use a numbing spray (on the cervix) to dull the sensation. After the cervix is cleaned, the doctor will use a small clamp to hold it open and pass a tube into the uterus. They will then collect a sample of the uterine lining and remove the instruments.
Will You Need Sedation During the Procedure?
If you are nervous about the procedure or do not want to feel discomfort, talk to your doctor about sedation options. This is a quick procedure that should not cause severe pain. Instead, most women experience a pinching sensation and period-like cramping. But this doesn't mean that you can't ask for pain relief. Discuss your concerns with the doctor before the procedure.
What Do You Need To Know About the Recovery?
Most women can return to normal daily activities after an endometrial biopsy. If you had sedation or took prescription pain medication, you will need someone else to drive you home and stay with you for the rest of the day. After the doctor removes the instruments you may have some light bleeding or spotting. Use a sanitary pad, not a tampon or menstrual cup.
The doctor will provide you with post-procedure instructions, such as how long to limit activity/exercise and when you can have sex again. For more information, contact an OBGYN near you.