Endometrial biopsy is a procedure used to study the endometrium (lining of the uterus). It is usually done in your healthcare provider's office. During the biopsy, small tissue samples are taken from the uterine lining. These are then sent to a lab for study. If any problems are found, you and your healthcare 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.
Reasons for the Procedure
Endometrial biopsy may help pinpoint 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)
What Are the Risks?
Problems with endometrial biopsy are rare, but can include:
- Damage to the uterine wall (very rare)
Getting Ready for the Procedure
Your doctor 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:
- Avoid using creams or other vaginal medications.
- Avoid douching.
- Ask your healthcare 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. An instrument called a speculum is then inserted into the vagina to hold it open.
- An antiseptic solution is applied to the cervix. The cervix may also be numbed with an anesthetic or dilated to widen the opening.
- A small suction tube is passed through the cervix into the uterus.
- It is normal to feel some cramping when the tube is inserted. But tell your healthcare provider if you have severe cramping or are very uncomfortable.
- Using mild suction, samples are taken from the uterine lining. You may feel pinching or additional cramping when this is done.
- The tube and speculum are then removed and the samples sent to a lab for study.
After the Procedure
- If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, 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 healthcare provider says it's okay.
- Ask your healthcare provider when it's okay to have sex again.
It will take about a week for the biopsy results to come back from the lab. Then you and your healthcare provider can discuss the results. These may show that no treatment is required. 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 healthcare provider if you have:
- Heavy bleeding (more than a pad an hour for 2 hours).
- Severe cramping, or increasing pain.
- Fever over 101°F.
- Foul-smelling or unusual vaginal discharge.