I’m not one to usually write about girl problems on the blog, and however much I rant about my period and the wrath of Mother Nature on Twitter, I’ve never really thought about voicing these issues on this blog. I don’t know why really because I am not ashamed or embarrassed to talk about women’s issues; we’re all women, same bits, same monthly blood baths and all that jazz. I am truly quite surprised at how squeamish some people can be with the mention of periods and other natural life occurrences, but let me assure you, my whole office is full of women and they know more about my uterus than most.
So where is this coming from? Well, I am writing this post because earlier this week I had a transvaginal ultrasound, and in my rather terrified, freaked out state I googled all about it to see if anyone had shared their experiences. I think I found one blog post and very few forums, and what I did find were anecdotes from women in the US rather than the UK. I wanted to write this for anyone that may be awaiting a similar test - those wanting to know what they should expect and help put their minds at ease.
So, if that’s you, it’s all going to be A OK, I promise <3
So you’ve been referred for a transvaginal ultrasound? Firstly the word transvaginal isn’t exactly calming, in fact it induced a state of panic that I don’t wish to experience on the regular. If you are having this kind of ultrasound, it’s likely that you’re experiencing hell with your periods and your doctor needs to investigate any potential problems. I have long suffered from Dysmenorrhoea (extremely painful periods) and in the last six months have had flair ups of acne, unwanted hair and a general feeling of imbalance. I was first given a blood test which determined I did in fact have a hormonal imbalance, one which indicated I was a sufferer of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) so I had to have an ultrasound to properly diagnose and investigate the probelm. The ultrasound is carried out using a transvaginal probe, which if you google, looks absolutely terrifying. I can additionally confirm that it looks no less intrusive in real life. I mean, it’s not everyday you are presented with a large clinical-looking object and told it’s going to be shoved inside of your lady bits, is it?
You have to empty your bladder for the scan and then make your way into the Gynaecology room. Because I am a nervous child, my bestie kindly came with me and was even allowed into the room with me, so always bear that in mind if you’re too scared to attend alone (she held my hand and everything because, well, I just don’t cope well in hospitals). I was told to remove everything from the waist down and get on the bed with my legs spread and knees up on the foot rests. Yes, you kiss goodbye to all modesty but then again, they’ve seen it all before so we really shouldn’t worry. Why do we worry? I’m also going to paint an even more awkward picture for you…I was still - although very slightly - on my period. Which by the way is totally ok as the ultrasound can be done at any time during your cycle, which was a relief because the wait for these things can be loooooong - it took two months from referral to get my scan.
So what does it feel like? Well just how you’d think an intrusive object in your vajay would feel. It didn’t hurt; it was just very uncomfortable, especially when pressure was applied. The sonographer applies a sheath and gel to the probe, which obviously makes the whole thing easier and more, let’s say, glidey. Is that even a word? It’s doubtful. My sonographer pressed down on my bladder which made me need a wee like crazy, but it was all over in ten minutes and it was no where near like I was expecting. It was in no way a pleasant experience; getting your vagina out for a doctor never is, but it wasn’t horrifying like some of the stories I had read in the US. Just a bit messy once you stand up - leaking gel and all that. The most interesting thing? Well, I now have a complete fact file on my uterus, ovaries and everything else down there. I now know that my cervix is 31.4mm in length - not something you learn everyday, eh?
Do note that abdominal scans will be carried out if you haven’t been sexually active or are a child, but I think you can also request them if you really can’t withstand a transvaginal procedure, I just don’t think they’re as accurate/can see as much. The good news? I don’t have PCOS and my baby makers are still in tact - I only have one cyst on one ovary which is deemed normal I think. The bad? I still don’t know what’s going on with my hormones and periods. The quest for a ‘normal’ cycle continues. So yes, if you’ve been referred for a transvaginal ultrasound, you’re going to be absolutely fine babes! Just relax.
I guess there's another good thing to come of this: I won't be scared for my smear now.