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Gynaecological (or pelvic) sonography is the most effective imaging modality used to examine the uterus, endometrium, ovaries and adjacent tissues. In males, a pelvic ultrasound usually focuses on the bladder and prostate gland. There are two methods of performing pelvic ultrasound; transabdominal (on top of the abdomen) and transvaginal (through the vagina).

Transabdominal scanning

For transabdominal scanning you will need a full bladder which is used as a “window” to examine the uterus and ovaries. Please aim to drink at least 2 cups (500mls) of water one hour before the examination. Do your best to hold the fluids in until the exam.

At the examination, you will lie on your back on an examination couch and the transducer moved back and forth across your lower abdomen to image the area of interest. Because of the larger distance between the transducer and the organs of interest, information might be lost and the sensitivity of the scan is not as good as the trans-vaginal approach.

Transvaginal (internal) scanning

This is usually employed to examine the pelvis or part of the womb typically the endometrium and ovaries in more detail. Gynaecologists recommend this method of scanning due to its clear images and accurate results.

You will be asked to lie on your back with your knees bent and legs apart (as if you were having a smear test or an internal examination). If this position is difficult for you, you may be able to lie on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. The sonographer will lubricate a small probe with gel and then insert it into the vagina. This may be slightly unusual for you, but should not be painful. This type of scan does not take long. For transvaginal scanning, no special preparation is required apart from you being asked to empty your bladder prior to the scan.

Transvaginal scans can be completed at any point in your menstrual cycle. It will not affect the outcome of your scan results. If you are uncomfortable or concerned getting your scan during a heavy cycle please don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with our appointments team.


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