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Dilationh and Curretage - D and C

What is it?

You are having troublesome periods or irregular bleeding. The doctors need to find out what is going on, and to find the best way to help.

The Operation

D and C stands for "dilatation and curettage". Dilatation means gently stretching up the opening in the neck of the womb with special instruments. Curettage means passing a special scraping instrument through the opening into the body of the womb. A little of the lining is scraped out to be looked at under a microscope. You will have a general anaesthetic and will be asleep for the operation. It takes about 10 minutes. The operation can be done as a day case. This means you come into hospital on the day of the operation and go home the same day.

Any Alternatives

If you leave things as they are, the problem will not get better. Tablets and medicines have not helped. Scans and X rays will not help at this stage. Your best way forward is to have this little operation.

Before the operation

Stop smoking and get your weight down if you are overweight. (See Healthy Living). If you know that you have problems with your blood pressure, your heart, or your lungs, ask your family doctor to check that these are under control. Check the hospital's advice about taking the pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Check you have a relative or friend who can come with you to hospital, take you home, and look after you for the first week after the operation. Sort out any tablets, medicines, inhalers that you are using. Keep them in their original boxes and packets. Bring them to hospital with you. On the ward, you may be checked for past illnesses and may have special tests, ready for the operation. Please tell the nurses of any allergies to tablets, medicines or dressings. You will have the operation explained to you and will be asked to fill in an operation consent form. Many hospitals now run special preadmission clinics, where you visit for an hour or two, a few weeks or so before the operation for these checks.

After - In Hospital

You will have a sanitary pad in place. You may have a mild pain like a period pain. Take the same pain killers you would take for a painful period. A general anaesthetic will make you slow, clumsy and forgetful for about 24 hours. Do not make important decisions, drive a car, use machinery, or even boil a kettle during that time. After an hour or two on the ward, you should feel fit enough to go home. Some hospitals arrange a check up after you leave hospital. Others leave check ups to the general practitioners. A note will be forwarded to your General Practitioner. The nurses will advise about sick notes, certificates etc.

After - At Home

Go and rest for at least 6 hours. There will be slight bleeding from the vagina, like the end of a period. It will last for a few days. Only use external pads for any loss. Do not use tampons. You can have sex after your next natural period if you feel comfortable enough.

Possible Complications

All operations carry some risk, but a D and C is a common and a very safe operation. Complications are very rare.

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