D&C (Dilation and curettage)procedure is carried out after a miscarriage to clear the uterus of any remaining fetal material. In this process, the cervix is dilated and the uterine lining is cleaned. The uterine material is scooped out by a special instrument called a curette. The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia. Sometimes, a detailed visual examination of the uterus (hysteroscopy) is done along with this to ensure that there is no abnormal growth. It does not take long to recover from a D&C though there may be mild nausea and a feeling of lightheadedness. You can start trying to conceive after one menstrual cycle.
The term D&C is used to describe a gynecological procedure. It is known as dilation and curettage. In this process, you are put under anesthesia and the cervix is dilated. A spoon shaped instrument called a curette is inserted to scrape the uterine lining. This procedure is generally carried out after a miscarriage has occurred but the uterine material is not fully ejected. It is used to control heavy bleeding. Though the process is simple and widely used, it is gradually being used less as more advanced and non invasive methods have been developed.
The procedure of D&C
If you are going to have a D&C, you will have to go through the following stages:
- A detailed medical history is taken. These include whether you suspect pregnancy, whether you are allergic to any medication, whether you are experiencing abnormally heavy bleeding and whether you are taking any medicines especially blood thinners. Often, you will have to provide a urine sample.
- You will be put under anesthesia. General anesthesia is most common though spinal or local anesthesias are also used.
- You will lie with your legs in a stirrup as in the case of a pelvic exam.
- The cervix is gradually dilated with medication and the use of a slender tube called laminaria.
- A long spoon shaped instrument called a curette is inserted through the cervix into the uterus. This is used to scrape the uterine wall. A cannula may be used for suction to get rid of any remaining material. A sample of the uterine material is sent to the lab for analysis.
- A detailed examination of the uterus is carried out. This process is known as hysteroscopy.
- The D&C procedure is complete. The patient is discharged after a few hours.
Complications after D&C
D&C is a perfectly safe procedure and complications and side effects are rare. Here are a few side effects which may be experienced:
- Since general anesthesia is given, you may feel disoriented after the procedure. Lightheadedness may occur. These effects generally disappear within twenty four hours.
- As the uterus is scraped and suction is applied, you may experience some cramping for a few days. This may be accompanied by spotting or light bleeding. The doctor will advise you to use a sanitary napkin for a few days. These are not serious. However, if you experience heavy bleeding with or without fever, immediate medical intervention is necessary.
- In some cases, a few risks may be associated with the procedure. There may be injury to the cervix or a uterine perforation may occur. The uterus generally heals itself while medication or stitches may be applied to tackle the injury to the cervix.
- In a few very rare cases, Asherman’s syndrome may occur. This is the formation of scar tissues in the uterus. It may interfere with normal menstruation and cause complications for future pregnancies.
Steps for better health after a D&C
After a D&C, you should take the following steps for better health:
- Take rest for two or three days before returning to normal activities, especially if you experience nausea and cramping.
- Avoid driving, lifting heavy things and operating heavy machinery for at least two days after the procedure.
- Avoid using tampons and having sex till the doctor allows you to do so. This will minimize the risk of infection and allow your cervix and uterus to heal.
- The first menstrual cycle after the D&C may be disturbed. It is recommended that you wait for about three cycles before you try to conceive. According to a research by Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 411 D&C patients were monitored. No complications were found in subsequent pregnancies.