Transvaginal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound. It is used to look at a woman's reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. Transvaginal means across or through the vagina.
You will lie down on a table with your knees bent and feet in holders called stirrups. The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel. The probe sends out sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture. The doctor can immediately see the picture on a nearby TV monitor.
The health care provider will move the probe within the area to see the pelvic organs. This test can be used during pregnancy.
In some cases, a special transvaginal ultrasound method called saline infusion sonography (SIS), also called sonohysterography or hysterosonography, may be needed to more clearly view the uterus.
This test requires saline (sterile salt water) to be placed into the uterus before the ultrasound. The saline helps outline any abnormal masses, so the doctor can get a better idea of their size.
SIS is not done on pregnant women.
How to prepare for the test
You will be asked to undress, usually from the waist down. A transvaginal ultrasound is done with your bladder empty or partially filled.
How the test will feel
The test is usually painless, although some women may have mild discomfort from the pressure of the probe. Only a small part of the probe is placed into the vagina.
Why the test is performed
Transvaginal ultrasound may be done for the following problems:
Abnormal findings on a physical exam, such as cysts, fibroid tumors, or other growths
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.