Pregnancy can be both an exciting and scary time for any woman. The uncertainty and the desire to have a healthy baby can make one’s pregnancy journey nerve-wracking. It’s a good thing that technology like ultrasound can make the ride more manageable and less stressful.
The same goes for women experiencing problems with their reproductive health. For those who may not be pregnant but are feeling symptoms like pain in their pelvic area and irregular and unusual bleeding, the fear of having an illness related to their reproductive system can cause worry. But with ultrasound, this can be quickly determined and promptly treated.
The Difference Between Pregnancy Ultrasound And Gynaecological Ultrasound
A pregnancy ultrasound checks the developing baby in the womb. It’s used to determine the age of the fetus, examine for any irregularities, and monitor the health of the mother and baby.
On the other hand, a gynaecological ultrasound is used to examine a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This is usually requested to help diagnose pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, and infertility.
Both types of ultrasounds are noninvasive and safe. If you need to have any of the two done, check the professional services offered by Ultrasound For Women and other imaging experts near you.
This post will explore what you need to expect from your pregnancy ultrasound and the gynaecological ultrasound appointments so you can prepare. Read on.
The Different Types Of Pregnancy Ultrasounds
The very first ultrasound was used in the 1950s to examine the heart. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it was used to see the image of a fetus inside a woman’s body. Since then, it has never stopped revolutionizing prenatal care. Today, there are many types of pregnancy ultrasounds.
- Transabdominal ultrasound (TAUS): Using a transducer, a handheld device that emits high-frequency sound waves into the body, the obstetrician will point the device on the portion of the abdomen where the fetus is. It then receives the echoes that are converted into electrical signals, which are processed by a computer to create an image of the body’s internal structures.
- Transvaginal ultrasound (TVU): This is used when the fetus is too small to be seen in a TAUS, typically during the first trimester of the pregnancy. It involves using a wand-like transducer into the vagina to produce images of the uterus and the developing fetus inside the womb.
- Doppler ultrasound: This uses sound waves to detect movement in the blood vessels and monitor the fetus’s health throughout the pregnancy.
- 3D/4D Ultrasound: This type of ultrasound is more recent and is used for nonmedical reasons, usually to capture images of the baby inside the wound for keepsake. But many parents and doctors use them to check for unusual conditions or congenital disabilities that do not appear in standard ultrasounds, like a cleft palate. This is an optional procedure.
These different types of ultrasounds are safe to use during pregnancy. They have been instrumental in ensuring the health of both the mother and the baby and have helped in many successful pregnancies for many decades now.
The Different Types Of Gynaecological Ultrasounds
There are several types of ultrasounds to check the condition of a woman’s reproductive system. These ultrasounds will help the gynaecologist arrive at a correct diagnosis for women experiencing various symptoms in their reproductive area. Pregnancy ultrasounds can be used for gynaecological reasons. But in addition, there’s also the following:
- Hysterosonography or sonohysterography: This is also known as saline infusion sonography (SIS). It is commonly used to evaluate the health of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Many women who experience abnormal uterine bleeding, frequent miscarriages, or difficulty getting pregnant may have a problem in their reproductive system. This ultrasound uses a sterile saline solution to help expand the uterus through a catheter inserted through the cervix.
What To Expect During A Pregnancy And Gynaecological Ultrasound
Pregnancy ultrasounds are generally painless and noninvasive. You may feel slight pressure or discomfort, but the procedure should not be painful. Here’s what you need to expect when you’re scheduled for one:
- If you’re getting a TAUS in the early stages of pregnancy, you may be required to drink fluids to make your bladder full for better imaging accuracy. But if you’re getting a TVU, you must empty your bladder.
- You will be asked to change into a gown for easy access to your abdomen.
- You will be asked to lie down on the examination table.
- For a TVU, you may be asked to lie on your back and your feet placed on stirrups.
- For safety reasons, a condom and lubricant will be placed on the transducer during a TVU to make it glide easily on the vagina.
- For a TAUS, a gel will be placed on your abdomen. It will be cold, and the sonologist will usually warn you about this so you won’t be surprised. This is so that the transducer will smoothly glide on your abdomen, and the sound waves will travel adequately.
- The sonologist will take measurements and images of your uterus and the developing fetus.
- The sonologist may ask you to occasionally move or hold your breath to capture images better.
- In some instances, you may be asked to empty your bladder halfway through the procedure.
- If you’re undergoing a hysterosonography, you may be asked to empty your bladder and be given a mild sedative to help you relax. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina to allow access to the cervix. A thin catheter will then be inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. A small amount of saline solution will be injected through the catheter into the uterus to help expand it and make it easier to see on ultrasound images.
Most procedures finish in about 30 minutes to an hour. If the ultrasound is for pregnancy purposes, your sonologist will understand your excitement and will try to explain everything you want to know about your pregnancy at that stage.
It will help if you relax and don’t get too worried if it’s for gynaecological reasons. If you have a problem, at least you’re doing the right thing by having it checked so you can have the proper treatment.
Modern obstetrics and gynaecology have evolved. With ultrasound, your doctor can monitor the health and development of your baby, diagnose and treat various gynaecological conditions, and provide peace of mind to expectant parents. If you’re pregnant or may be experiencing gynaecological symptoms, consult your healthcare provider so they can recommend the proper ultrasound procedure for you.