Dilation and Curettage (D and C)
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Dilation and curettage (D and C) is a type of female surgical procedure. It consists of manually dilating, or opening, your cervix. A thin instrument called a curette is then inserted into your uterus. The end of it is shaped like a spoon in order to scrape out uterine tissue.
There are several purposes for a D and C. The main one is to remove uterine cells to check for infection or cancer, or to remove a cyst or tumor. It can help treat certain conditions, such as abnormal bleeding. A D and C may be done after a miscarriage. This is if your body does not naturally expel the fetus and tissues.
Path to Improved Health
Before the procedure
A D and C is done the operating room. To help with dilation, the healthcare provider may give you medicine to soften your cervix. You will be given a form of anesthesia as well.
During the procedure
The cervix is opened carefully so that tissue can be removed. For most D and Cs, your cervix needs to open about half an inch in diameter.
Once the cervix is open, the healthcare provider inserts the curette. They scrape the tissue lining to remove abnormal uterine cells or unwanted tissue. A suction curettage may be performed instead. The healthcare provider removes the curette and speculum once the procedure is complete.
Recovery after the procedure
If you get anesthesia, you have to wait a couple hours before going home. You won’t be able to drive, so someone has to pick you up. After 1 or 2 days, you can return to your normal routine. You may have cramping, spotting, or light bleeding following surgery. Any pain you have should be mild.
A D and C may affect your menstrual cycle. Your body produces a new uterine lining after part of it gets removed. Your next monthly period may be early or late because of this.
Things to Consider
There are some risks to a D and C. You could get an infection in your uterus. To help prevent this, avoid putting anything in your vagina following the procedure until your healthcare provider says it is ok. This includes tampons. You also should avoid having sex. This can damage your uterus, which will be sensitive. Getting cut by the curette and bleeding (hemorrhaging) are other risks.
If you have a D and C after miscarriage, you may get scar tissue in your uterus and/or cervix. This condition is called Asherman syndrome. The scar tissue can cause changes in your menstrual cycle and flow. There is a chance it could cause infertility. Surgery can treat most cases of Asherman syndrome.
When to see a healthcare provider
After a D and C, call your healthcare provider if you have:
- Heavy or prolonged vaginal bleeding.
- Severe pain in your stomach or uterus.
- Foul smell or discharge coming from your vagina.
- Fever and/or chills.