Your doctor has suggested you undergo an endometrial biopsy and you’re not really sure what it involves. Knowing how an endometrial biopsy is performed can help ease some of the stress of the unknown. An endometrial biopsy is a procedure that is often recommended to determine what may be causing irregular periods, abnormal vaginal bleeding or occasionally when the results of a pap smear are abnormal. The procedure itself only takes five minutes or so, yet it can give your doctor a lot of information about what may be happening in your reproductive organs.
What Is an Endometrial Biopsy?
An endometrial biopsy is a procedure performed by your doctor as part of an evaluation of the health of your reproductive system, primarily the inner lining of your uterus. The uterus is the organ in your lower belly that carries your baby during your pregnancy. Your uterus lining is called the endometrium.
During an endometrial biopsy, your doctor will use special tools to remove a small sample of tissue from the endometrium. The tissue samples will be studied under a microscope to look for abnormal cells such as polyps (small or large growths in your uterus), uterine infections such as endometritis, or for the presence of precancerous or cancer cells. Endometrial cancer is one of the most common cancers of the female reproductive organs.
How to Prepare for the Procedure
An endometrial biopsy generally is not a procedure that requires anesthesia. As such, you should not have to fast or change your diet in the days prior to the procedure. However, there are some preparatory steps your doctor may want you to take before your procedure. These include:
- Pregnancy Test. If there is any chance you could be pregnant, your doctor will want you to take a pregnancy test before the biopsy for the safety of your unborn baby. If there is any chance you might be pregnant, your doctor will postpone an endometrial biopsy. Endometrial biopsy during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage.
- Record Your Menstrual Cycles. If you are an age when you are still menstruating, your doctor may want you to keep a record of your menstrual cycles for a certain amount of time before the biopsy. Sometimes a record of your cycles is requested to help establish the best date for a test that needs to be done at a particular time during your cycle.
- Inform Your Doctor about Any Medications You Are Taking. Your doctor needs to know about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking. You might have to stop taking blood thinners before an endometrial biopsy. Certain medications can interfere with the blood’s ability to clot properly.
- Inform Your Doctor about Any Bleeding Disorders and Allergies. Your doctor needs to know whether you have any bleeding disorders or if you have allergies to latex, iodine, or other substances that could be used during the procedure.
- Take a Pain Reliever 30 Minutes before Your Procedure. Depending on your specific case, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever 30 minutes before your visit. On occasion, your doctor may also give you a mild sedative to make you more comfortable during the procedure. (In those cases, you will need to have someone available to drive you home afterward).
How an Endometrial Biopsy Is Performed
Procedures may vary based on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices. Generally speaking, the biopsy procedure will be conducted similar to a pelvic exam. Your doctor will have you lie on the exam table and place your feet in stirrups.
The doctor will then insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina and will cleanse your cervix with a soap solution. To take the tissue samples, the doctor will use a special catheter. It is a tube with a smaller tube inside it. The doctor will withdraw the inner tube creating suction at the end of the catheter, then gently rotate and move the tip of the catheter in and out to collect small pieces of endometrial tissue.
Once all samples have been taken, the doctor will remove the catheter and speculum. The samples will be sent to a lab for analysis.
Understanding Your Results
If your results are abnormal, your doctor will review them with you. Abnormal results could mean you have benign, noncancerous growths (like polyps or fibroids), or an infection like endometritis. It could also indicate a more serious condition such as endometrial cancer, or a variety of other conditions. Your doctor will give you advice as to what your next steps should be based on the results.
Reach Out to Raleigh Gynecology Today!
An endometrial biopsy is a simple procedure but it can be intimidating for many patients. Contact Raleigh Gynecology to get your questions answered about your reproductive health and to schedule an appointment.