What does a hysteroscopy feel like?
If you have been told you need a hysteroscopy you may have some questions. One of those being what does a hysteroscopy feel like? I’m going to share my experiences with you. Please note, this does not replace any medical advice you have been given. This is my experience of what happened during my hysteroscopy and it will be different for every individual. If you are squeamish and don’t like to read about periods then this may not be the article for you!
What is a hysteroscopy?
In essence a hysteroscopy is a telescope that is used to look inside your womb. The telescope is passed up through your vagina and up into your womb, the images are shown on a screen to the medical team. This part is usually uncomfortable but not overly painful. You will most likely be asked to take some painkillers an hour before your appointment. If they discover something they need to remove then they may offer you a local anaesthetic.
A hysteroscopy is usually required to investigate, diagnose and/or treat conditions such as polyps and fibroids. You may need one if you are having issues with your periods, pelvic pain, have a displaced IUD (intra-uterine device) as well as other reasons.
A hysteroscopy will be carried out in a hospital setting. If you have had a colposcopy before then you will most likely have been in a very similar room to where a hysteroscopy takes place.
Before the hysteroscopy
I would like to provide some background for why I needed a hysteroscopy. In August 2022 I started experiencing extremely heavy and painful periods. Each month in the lead up to it I would be extremely moody. When it arrived, the pressure was intense. It felt as though I was 9 months pregnant and the baby was trying to engage. Every time I had the tiniest bit of wee in my bladder the pressure would increase. When I went to the toilet this pressure got even more intense. I had times I felt I would pass out.
My periods made me feel like a young teenager again as I would often flood through a variety of sanitary products onto my clothes or pyjamas. It made me feel extremely self conscious and not want to go out.
I was struggling to lose weight, stress eating, my skin was bad and I developed pompholyx. Which may or may not be related. I knew my periods were not normal for me. So I called my GP and hoped they would take me seriously. She did luckily, and referred me for an ultrasound, I ended up having 2 of these in total before being referred to the gynaecology team at my local hospital.
I had to wait 6 months for an appointment with the gynaecology team. This was then cancelled due to the doctors strike. They re-booked it for another 6 months time, and I lost it. I had been experiencing this for almost a year and I wasn’t prepared to wait. The team were very understanding when I phoned up and managed to get me an appointment for 3 months time.
1st gynaecology appointment
On the day I arrived to see a male doctor, we spoke through my symptoms and potential cause of the problems I was experiencing. As kind as he was I feel it was probably difficult for him to fully understand what I was experiencing. He told me I would need to be referred for a hysteroscopy. I was given the option of having this with or without general anaesthetic. Yet couldn’t advise on whether it would be best to go with or without. I decided to go without.
In the lead up to the appointment I did wonder if I had made the right decision. Why would they offer a general if it wasn’t painful? All the literature said it was uncomfortable, with mild pain. It was too late to change my mind now.
What does a hysteroscopy feel like?
When I arrived I was met by the gynaecologist (female thankfully!). I gave her my requested pee sample. Why can you never pee on demand? This was routine to ensure I wasn’t pregnant. She talked me through what would happen, different outcomes and we completed the consent form. I was suspected to have a uterine polyp from the ultrasounds I had previously. At this appointment they said if they saw one they would try to remove it and then implant the Mirena coil.
After this conversation, I was asked to get changed in a private area. I had to remove all clothing from my bottom half – I kept my socks on though! A hospital gown was provided. They asked if I minded students observing the procedure, so in total there were 2 doctors and 3 nurses in the room with me. I had to sit on the couch with my bottom right at the very edge and place my feet up into stirrups. A large sheet of paper was placed over the top of me to protect my modesty.
In the room
During the process I knew it was important to stay as relaxed as possible. So I focused on my breathing and staying relaxed. They said to let them know if I felt any pain at all. The telescope does look quite intimidating but a lot of it is to do with the camera being connected to the machine.
Water is released as the telescope is inserted to help get it into the correct place. This feels quite strange. Initially, all I felt was the water. As it gets to a narrow entrance to your womb it can be uncomfortable until it passes through. At this point I felt a lot of pressure but it passed within a minute or so. There was no pain just discomfort, it immediately made me feel like I was getting mild period cramps. As the telescope was moved around inside there were moments of discomfort but no pain. At this point they began taking pictures with the telescope. The Dr told me they were unable to proceed any further and the telescope was removed. Again there was a discomfort but no pain.
After the hysteroscope
When this was complete the Dr left the room, I was asked to go and speak with her once changed. I really needed a wee, so went to the toilet and got dressed. I was given a HUGE pad to wear in case of bleeding, which I did wear, but I had worn a pair of period pants in preparation. At this point the Dr told me that I had too many polyps for her to remove. She suggested that I have it done under general anaesthetic, although I had managed very well in there, she felt it would be too much to do while awake.
That is my experience of ‘what does a hysteroscopy feel like?’ So now I wait for another appointment, but at least there is progress! This time last year I was awaiting the initial investigations, so I am grateful that things are moving forwards and I am getting closer to feeling better. After the procedure I had some very light spotting and cramping for a couple of days. I imagine this would have been more if they had removed something.