If you've been having painful periods or other problems in your pelvic area, your doctor might order a pelvic ultrasound scan to see if they can identify any problems. Ultrasound scans are imaging tests that help your doctor see your pelvic organs. They can sometimes identify issues by themselves, but ultrasounds are also used along with other types of testing to arrive at a diagnosis.

Here is information about the two types of pelvic ultrasounds and what to expect when you have an ultrasound scan.

1. An External Pelvic Scan Requires A Full Bladder

An external pelvic ultrasound is done by passing a transducer over the surface of your skin. The scan produces images of all your pelvic organs. However, you'll probably be instructed to drink a certain amount of water before the test so your full bladder can push your uterus into a better position for scanning.

This type of ultrasound scan isn't painful or uncomfortable. The technician applies gel to your skin for the transducer to glide over. This is the same type of scan pregnant women have to check on the development of their baby. The transducer produces sound waves that penetrate your body, but the waves aren't felt or heard.

2. An Internal Scan Is Done Through Your Vagina

The other type of ultrasound scan is an internal scan that's done by inserting a small wand into your vagina. This is usually done on an empty bladder, so you may be asked to urinate right before the test. By inserting the transducer into your vagina, the transducer is closer to your organs, and it may produce better imaging tests.

The transducer is lubricated with scanning gel, so the procedure shouldn't be painful or difficult to tolerate. You may have only an internal ultrasound, only an external scan, or your doctor may order both, depending on what the doctor is looking for and your symptoms.

Ultrasound waves bounce back from bones, organs, and other tissues, so they're able to create detailed images that help your doctor find tumors, ectopic pregnancies, and other abnormalities. You'll see the images on a monitor as the scan is being done, and you may find it difficult to understand what the images portray. However, a radiologist can interpret the scans and send the results to your doctor to provide the information needed to help your doctor understand what's causing your pelvic symptoms. It may be a few days before you'll get the results from a routine pelvic ultrasound scan.

If you need an ultrasound, visit an imaging center, such as Hudson Valley Imaging