Pelvic Ultrasound

Key Facts
  • Pelvic ultrasound is a way to take pictures of the pelvic organs.
  • Your bladder needs to be full before abdominal pelvic ultrasound – drink a lot of water!
  • The procedure isn’t painful, but you may be uncomfortable until you can go to the bathroom.

pelvic ultrasound

A pelvic ultrasound is a way to take pictures of the pelvic organs in a female and is usually done to look at the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, kidneys and the bladder. An ultrasound may help your health care provider figure out the cause of your pain, lack of periods, or  irregular periods,  the position of an IUD or if you are pregnant.

How should I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?

Most often you’ll need to have a full bladder (where urine is stored) before the procedure. This means you must drink a lot of water before you arrive for the test – usually about 32 ounces or four 8 ounce glasses. If your bladder isn’t full when you arrive, you will be asked to drink more water.

Is a pelvic ultrasound painful?

The test itself is not painful but you may feel a little uncomfortable since your bladder will be full until you pass urine (pee) after the test.

What happens during the pelvic ultrasound?

You will lie on your back on an exam table while the sonographer (the person who performs the ultrasound) places a warm gel on your lower belly with something that looks like a microphone. The sonographer will gently move this microphone-like instrument around your abdomen (belly). You will probably feel a little bit of pressure but you shouldn’t feel any pain. The instrument actually makes a picture by picking up sound waves. The ultrasound is usually performed on your belly, but sometimes an ultrasound is performed with a probe that is inserted into the vagina and is called a transvaginal ultrasound.  Transvaginal ultrasounds are particularly helpful in determining if you are pregnant or have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus in the fallopian tube) or you have ovary problems that are not well seen on the initial abdominal ultrasound.  Ultrasound can also be used to determine if an IUD is in the correct position. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes.

After the test you may use the bathroom. You will feel a lot better once you pee and empty your bladder. Your health care provider will let you know the results when they are available.