Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

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Surgery Overview

A dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure to remove tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

During a D&C, the vagina is spread open. Then the cervix is opened gently so that tissue can be removed, usually with a scraping or suction tool.

A D&C may be done in a hospital or clinic. Most women go home the same day.

You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. You may get pain medicine before the procedure.

What To Expect After Surgery

  • Most women are able to return to normal activities in a day or two.
  • You may have mild pelvic cramping for a few hours.
  • You may have a small amount of vaginal discharge.
  • For 2 weeks after the D&C, you should not:
    • Have sexual intercourse.
    • Douche.
    • Use tampons.
  • Your next period may be early or late.

Why It Is Done

Dilation and curettage (D&C) may be used to:

  • Find and treat bleeding problems.
  • Control sudden, heavy vaginal bleeding that is causing heavy blood loss or a low number of red blood cells (anemia).
  • End a pregnancy.
  • Remove tissue that remains after a miscarriage.
  • Get a tissue sample for testing. For example, a postmenopausal woman who has vaginal bleeding may be tested for signs of endometrial cancer.

How Well It Works

D&C usually stops heavy menstrual bleeding. The stop in bleeding may be temporary.

Risks

A D&C has risks, but problems are rare. The risks include:

  • Infection.
  • Puncture of the uterine wall.
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Scarring of the lining of the uterus. This can make it hard to get pregnant.

What To Think About

Right after the procedure, you will likely stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours. Then you will go home. You will get information to help you during your recovery.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017