Posted on 10th February 2023 at 18:23
Many women experience symptoms related to their periods. Such symptoms include pelvic pain, irregular bleeding, heavy bleeding or discharge - this list is not exhaustive.
Going to the general practitioner (GP) is often the first step. A doctor will take a full history to try to understand the reason for the concerns. A pelvic ultrasound scan or gynaecology scan allows an assessment of the female reproductive organs (womb or uterus), ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Sometimes fibroids will be seen - fibroids are balls of muscle that lie inside the womb, in the muscle of the womb, or poke outside the surface of the womb. They can cause bleeding, pain or make it difficult to become pregnant if they are in a tricky position.
Endometriosis - This is when the cells that should be in the lining of the womb are found in the female reproductive tract but outside the lining of the womb. The cells deposit in the ovaries, fallopian tube and bowel. The cells behave in the same way as during a cycle and there is inflammation which causes scar tissue to form and pain. Sometimes cysts form in the ovaries due to endometriosis.
Polycystic ovaries - This is where there are additional small cysts in the ovary. If there are additional hormonal imbalances, it is called polycystic ovary syndrome.
Lost Coils - Coils can move up into the womb and become lost, causing discomfort. An ultrasound can help to find them.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - Some women will get infections in the reproductive tract that lead to scar tissue and pain.
An ultrasound can be a useful investigation and reports will be given to the gynaecologist to create a management plan.
Women can request scans at many private clinics without a GP referral to speed up the process of getting answers.
Fertility Scans (Follicle Tracking Scan or Ovulation Tracking Scan)
Women having fertility treatment or IVF often need scans to check on the health of the womb and how ready their reporductive tract or ovaries are for getting pregnant. Fertility scans can be used to measure the thickness of the endometrium and this information is used to tell how ready the womb is for the fertilised embryo. Fertility scans also measure the size of the ovarian follicle - this is called follicle tracking and this can provide information about the timing of ovulation for IVF cycles.