What’s dilation and curettage?
A D&C procedure is performed under general or local anesthesia in the doctor’s office. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep for the procedure while local anesthesia will allow you to stay awake. Either way, you won’t feel anything during the D&C.
The procedure is similar to a pap smear in that your feet will be in stirrups and the gynecologist will insert a speculum into the vaginal canal. After that, we use a special device or medication to dilate the cervix, allowing access to the uterine wall.
Once we’ve reached the necessary cervical dilation, a spoon-shaped tool (curette) can be inserted into the uterus.
What is a D&C used for?
As previously mentioned, dilation & curettage is a multi-purpose procedure. We use the curette to remove tissue from the uterine wall for diagnosis or treatment of gynecological problems.
A common use of the D&C procedure is for miscarriage. During an incomplete or missed miscarriage, some or all of the pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus. If this tissue isn’t removed, it can cause heavy bleeding or infection.
Fortunately, with an incomplete miscarriage, the cervix is already dilated so we’re more easily able to access the uterus and remove the tissue.
Fibroids, polyps, adhesions (scar tissue), and tumors that form on the uterine wall can be removed with a D&C procedure.
A molar pregnancy occurs when an egg is improperly fertilized, attaches to the lining of the uterus, and begins to grow tumors instead of a placenta. The body will often expel this non-cancerous growth on its own, but a surgical D&C may be necessary to prevent damage or complications.
A dilation and curettage procedure can be used to diagnose or find the root cause of problems such as a painful menstrual cycle, abnormal uterine bleeding, infertility, bleeding after menopause, and even uterine cancer. Using the curette, we carefully scrape a sample from the endometrium (uterine lining) to send off for evaluation.
A D&C can also be combined with a hysteroscopy — a procedure in which we insert a thin, lighted camera through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus. This allows us to visualize problems such as endometriosis, thickening of the endometrial lining, or growths.
What are the signs you need a D&C?
Some signs that could indicate you need a D&C include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Passing blood clots or tissue
- Severe cramping
- Heavy cramping or bleeding early in pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding after childbirth or miscarriage
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, contact our team of healthcare professionals.
What to expect after a D&C
Dilation and curettage is an outpatient procedure, meaning you’ll get to go home once the anesthesia has worn off. A healthcare provider will monitor you in our recovery room until you’re ready to be sent home.
You will probably have side effects such as cramping and spotting or light bleeding for a few days. For the first two to three days of recovery, nothing should be inserted into your vagina (no tampons, no sexual intercourse) and you should avoid bathing.
Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to manage any cramping or discomfort. We recommend using sanitary pads for the first few days of recovery to monitor your bleeding. You can return to normal activities as soon as you feel up to it.
During the recovery period, patients may also experience a range of emotions, from relief to grief, depending on the circumstances leading to the D&C. It is essential to allow time for emotional healing and seek support if needed.
Depending on the reason for your D&C, you may need to come in for a follow-up appointment to discuss results or after-effects.
Are there any D&C risks?
Like any surgical procedure, a D&C carries risks, including infection, heavy bleeding, or perforation of the uterus. Scar tissue formation, known as Asherman syndrome, is a rare complication that can lead to infertility.
Signs of infection post-D&C include fever, severe abdominal pain, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. If you experience heavy bleeding (soaking through a pad in an hour) after a D&C, seek medical attention promptly.
Have health concerns? Make Dr. Rad your OB/GYN
Perinatologist Dr. Rad and his world-class Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) obstetrics and gynecology team at Los Angeles Fetal and Maternal Care understand your high-risk obstetric and infertility needs. We provide compassionate care and help you understand your pregnancy, answer questions, and provide emotional support to navigate your pregnancy safely.
Dr. Rad has undergone rigorous training at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of Southern California, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center, and centers internationally, including London, Austria, Israel, and Africa.
Call us at (844) 473-6100 or schedule your consultation online. We are currently accepting new patients.
We are conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area at locations in or near Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, and Downtown Los Angeles. We also offer in-home prenatal care and a fly-in program for out-of-town and international patients. Dr. Rad even travels to patients who need him throughout the U.S. and around the world.
If you can’t make it to Dr. Rad, he also offers virtual consultations worldwide.