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What is a transvaginal ultrasound?

I'm a 36 year old woman and I've been having problems with irregular period and severe abdominal pain, so my Gynecologist thinks the best thing to do it a ""trans-vaginal ultrasound."" Can you explain exactly what this procedure is, how it works, what to expect, etc? Ultrasounds are painless, right?
This is an example of how we as physicians need to do a better job explaining the details of the tests we order for our patients. In this case a transvaginal ultrasound is a very simple imaging test that can be done in your OBGYN's office. A transvaginal ultrasound is a technique where an ultrasound probe is placed within the vagina with the tip of the probe up against the cervix. The purpose of this technique is to get clearer pictures of the uterus and ovaries than can be obtained through a standard surface pelvic ultrasound. Obviously the transvaginal ultrasound can be a little more uncomfortable than the surface version. It will have a similar discomfort level as getting a standard yearly pelvic exam or pap smear. The transvaginal ultrasound is a good initial test for the work up of your symptoms. Depending on what is found more additional tests may be needed. I suggest that at your next visit with your OBGYN discussing the diagnostic work up your doctor has in mind. This way there are no surprises as the two of you figure out why your are having irregular periods and severe abdominal pain. Good luck.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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