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An endometrial biopsy is a procedure performed to obtain a small tissue sample from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. After the biopsy, the endometrial tissue is examined under a microscope to identify the presence of abnormal cells, or the effects of hormones on the endometrium.
Other related procedures used to evaluate and treat endometrial problems include dilation and curettage (D & C), hysteroscopy, and endometrial ablation. Please see these procedures for additional information.
With each menstrual cycle, the endometrium prepares itself to nourish a fetus, as increased levels of estrogen and progesterone help to thicken its walls. If fertilization does not occur, the endometrium, coupled with blood and mucus from the vagina and cervix (the lower, narrow part of the uterus located between the bladder and the rectum) make up the menstrual flow (also called menses) that leaves the body through the vagina. After menopause, menstruation stops and a woman should not have any bleeding.
The organs and structures of the female pelvis are:
An endometrial biopsy may be performed for several reasons. In the evaluation and treatment of infertility (the inability to conceive), a biopsy of endometrial cells several days before menstruation can show the endometrial response to the hormones estrogen and progesterone and can determine if ovulation has occurred.
An endometrial biopsy may be recommended for women with abnormal menstrual bleeding, bleeding after menopause, or absence of uterine bleeding. Biopsy results may indicate cell changes related to hormone levels, or the presence of abnormal tissues such as fibroids or polyps, which can lead to abnormal bleeding. Endometrial biopsy may also be used to check for uterine infections such as endometritis.
An endometrial biopsy may also be used to check the effects of hormone replacement therapy or to detect the presence of abnormal cells or cancer. Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs.
There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend an endometrial biopsy.
As with any surgical procedure, complications may occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications, iodine, or latex should notify their physician.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your physician. Endometrial biopsy during pregnancy may lead to miscarriage.
There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.
Certain factors or conditions may interfere with an endometrial biopsy. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
An endometrial biopsy may be performed in a physician’s office, on an outpatient basis, or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your physician’s practices.
Generally, an endometrial biopsy follows this process:
After the procedure, you may rest for a few minutes before going home. If you received any type of sedative, you will need someone to drive you home.
You may want to wear a sanitary pad for bleeding. It is normal to have some mild cramping and spotting or vaginal bleeding for a few days after the procedure. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your physician. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
You may be instructed not to douche, use tampons, or have intercourse for two to three days after an endometrial biopsy, or for a period of time recommended by your physician.
You may also have other restrictions on your activity, including no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
You may resume your normal diet unless your physician advises you differently.
Your physician will advise you on when to return for further treatment or care.
Notify your physician if you have any of the following:
Your physician may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. Please consult your physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
This page contains links to other Web sites with information about this procedure and related health conditions. We hope you find these sites helpful, but please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these Web sites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here.