Female Health and the General Pelvic Ultrasound Fertility Scan

For couples who have been trying to conceive without success for at least a year, fertility testing is sometimes a good option to make sure that everything is working as it should. One of the baseline tests for female fertility and reproductive health is the General Pelvic Ultrasound Scan, a quick and easy way to examine the structures essential for healthy female reproductive function. This article discusses the scan and the conditions that it can pick up on, as well as some general points about fertility and health.

What does the general pelvic ultrasound scan do?

The general pelvic ultrasound fertility scan generates an image of a number of different important parts of your reproductive tract. These include the uterus, also known as the womb, the lining of the womb, the ovaries, and general pelvic area. Each of these areas is an essential part of the system, and any damage to these can potentially impact fertility.

The uterus is where a fertilised egg, the earliest stage of a newborn’s development which occurs directly after conception, implants and grows. The uterine lining is where this fertilised egg will make contact, and as such the health of both is critical to fertility and the very earliest stages of a pregnancy which occur before you are even aware of it! The ovaries are structures where eggs are stored, and their health is important as eggs need to be kept in good condition and allowed to leave down the fallopian tubes to implant in the uterus as mentioned earlier.

As you can see the parts of the body examined by the general pelvic ultrasound are all-important to female fertility and health.

What kind of conditions can a general pelvic ultrasound pick up on?

The general pelvic ultrasound can pick up on such conditions as:

  1. Fibroids are usually benign tumours (harmless growths) that form from muscle tissue like that forming the wall of the uterus (also known as the womb). Fibroids grow in groups rather than occur singularly, and are harmless most of the time, but can sometimes form malignancies. Malignant fibroids are very uncommon and are called leiomyosarcoma. Generally speaking fibroids occur around or after middle age, they also usually don’t present with any symptoms, but can potentially cause unusually painful menstruation and intercourse, and often make you need to urinate more often. Fibroids can potentially interfere with pregnancies, and have been known to cause fertility issues as well. 
  2. Polyps in the female reproductive organs are usually called endometrial or uterine polyps. These are growths found on the lining of the womb, a structure which is important to fertility and reproductive health. Polyps can present in different shapes and forms, and at present no definite cause is known. While usually there are no symptoms, endometrial polyps can cause irregular monthly bleeding, which is often unusually heavy as well. This is because polyp’s possess their own blood vessels which can bleed out of sync with the regular menstrual cycle.
  3. ‘Ovarian Cyst’ is a very general term describing any and all abnormal structures enclosing fluid. These cysts can vary hugely in size, with some appearing as small as a pea and others growing to become considerably larger, potentially reaching the size of a large orange, if not bigger. Cysts can vary in how they present symptomatically, they can cause any or all of: pain or aching in the lower abdomen or in and around the genitals, bloating or pressure in the abdomen, tender breasts, abnormal menstrual pain and irregular menstruation, increase in weight, infertility, increases in facial and/or body hair, headaches, and many other symptoms.
  4. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is actually a very common disorder which can be detrimental to fertility. The symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are disrupted menstruation (either too few or none at all), infertility, metabolic issues like obesity, and higher levels of testosterone and other hormones responsible for masculine features (and hence masculinisation through hirsutism (masculine hair growth)).What symptoms would cause me to be referred for a general pelvic ultrasound scan?

Generally speaking you will be referred to have a general pelvic ultrasound scan if you present with symptoms like:

  1. Irregular periods.
  2. Unusual abdominal bloating or swelling.
  3. Unusually heavy bleeding during periods.
  4. Bleeding after menopause.
  5. Trouble conceiving (fertility issues).

Pelvic ultrasounds are also used prior to assisted reproductive techniques like IVF. This technique is a safe, easy, and accurate way of taking a look at some of the most important parts of the female body as far as reproduction is concerned.

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