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Endometrial Biopsy

An endometrial biopsy is a quick office procedure used to study the endometrium (lining of the uterus). During the biopsy, your health care provider takes small tissue samples from the uterine lining. These samples are then sent to a lab for study. If any problems are found, you and your health care provider will discuss treatment options. The biopsy usually takes less than 20 minutes, and you can often go back to your normal routine as soon as the procedure is over.

Woman lying on exam table with feet in stirrups. Healthcare provider is sitting between woman's legs.

Reasons for the Procedure

Endometrial biopsy may help identify the cause of certain problems. These include:

  • Bleeding after menopause

  • Heavy or irregular periods

  • Bleeding associated with hormone replacement therapy

  • Prolonged bleeding

  • Abnormal Pap test results

  • Trouble getting pregnant (fertility problems)

  • Bleeding due to precancerous cells in the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia)

What Are the Risks?

Problems with endometrial biopsy are rare, but can include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Injury to the uterine wall (very rare)

Getting Ready for the Procedure

Your health care provider will ask about your health and any medications you take, such as blood thinners. Before your biopsy, you may have tests to make sure you’re not pregnant or have an infection. You may also be asked to sign a consent form. A day or two before the procedure you should: 

  • Avoid using creams or other vaginal medications.

  • Avoid douching.

  • Ask your health care provider if you should take pain medications shortly before the test.

 During the Biopsy

  • You will be asked to lie on an exam table with your knees bent, just as you do for a Pap test.

  • You may have a brief pelvic exam. Your health care provider then inserts an instrument called a speculum into the vagina to hold it open.

  • Your provider applies antiseptic solution to the cervix. The cervix may also be numbed with an anesthetic.

  • The cervix is then grasped with an instrument to hold it in place. It may also be dilated to widen the opening.

  • A thin suction tube is passed through the cervix into the uterus.

  • You may feel some cramping or pinching when the tube is inserted. Tell your health care provider if you have severe cramping or are very uncomfortable.

  • Your health care provider uses mild suction to take samples from the uterine lining. You may feel additional cramping when this is done.

  • The biopsy tube and speculum are then removed and the samples sent to a lab for study.

After the Procedure

  • If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, notify your health care provider. You can rest on the table until you’re ready to get dressed.

  • For a few hours, you may feel some mild cramping. This can usually be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications.

  • You may have some bleeding for a few days. Use pads instead of tampons.

  • Don’t douche or use any vaginal medications unless your health care provider says it’s OK.

  • Ask your health care provider when it’s OK to have sex again.

Follow-Up

It will take about a week for the biopsy results to come back from the lab. Then you and your health care provider can discuss the results. The results may show that no treatment is needed or you may be scheduled for a follow-up appointment and further tests. If your biopsy was done for fertility problems, be sure to record the day when your next period begins.

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Heavy bleeding (more than a pad an hour for 2 hours)

  • Severe cramping or abdominal pain

  • Fever over 101°F

  • Foul-smelling or unusual vaginal discharge

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/25/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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