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Painful hysteroscopy

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Thanks so much for taking time to share your experience. Glad it worked out well for you. 

That’s an excellent idea, the ‘dry run.’ Is that widely available, I wonder? I’m sure colleagues will let us know! 

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I had this procedure on Monday and i consider my pain threshold to be pretty good. It was brutally painful. Horrendous. On the pain scale, on a par with breaking my back - although obviously a totally different type of pain. I felt faint and it was breathtakingly agonising. I cried throughout and have NEVER cried because of pain like that before 

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Hi Dawn,  so sorry to hear this has happened to you.  What an awful experience. Unfortunately you are far from being alone with feeling extreme pain with hysteroscopy.  Research has shown that 1 in 4 women will experience severe pain. I hope this was explained to you before your procedure and you were given the opportunity to have it carried out under general anaesthetic or sedation. The RCOG guidelines state that all of this should be discussed with women prior to the procedure but unfortunately this very often doesn't happen.  Also the procedure should have been stopped given the pain and distress you experienced. The Campaign Against Painful Hysteroscopy is working tirelessly to bring about change but its an uphill battle.  Men would never be expected to go through a procedure this painful without anaesthetic.   Are you on facebook?  If so the campaign has a facebook page and from there you can ask to join a private group where women who have had a bad hysteroscopy experience can talk about it and support each other. Or message  https://www.hysteroscopyaction.org.uk/contact-us/.  I hope you begin to feel better very soon.

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11 hours ago, Dawn said:

I had this procedure on Monday and i consider my pain threshold to be pretty good. It was brutally painful. Horrendous. On the pain scale, on a par with breaking my back - although obviously a totally different type of pain. I felt faint and it was breathtakingly agonising. I cried throughout and have NEVER cried because of pain like that before 

Hello Dawn,

So sorry to hear of your brutal experience at the hands of the NHS; sadly you are not alone. 

Please seek support if you feel you need to speak to someone about your experience; I wish that I that I'd had the courage to seek support as I now struggle dealing with the NHS for other issues such as my Covid-19 vaccinations and health check. Thankfully I have a supportive GP surgery.

Not all NHS staff behave like this so please don't let this experience put you off seeking treatment for any other issues, most of the staff are supportive.

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I had this procedure on Monday and i consider my pain threshold to be pretty good. It was brutally painful. Horrendous. On the pain scale, on a par with breaking my back - although obviously a totally different type of pain. I felt faint and it was breathtakingly agonising. I cried throughout and have NEVER cried because of pain like that before 

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Thank you for your reply. The staff were actually amazingly supportive - probably because they knew how excoriating it was going to be. They couldn’t have been more supportive or any kinder. My issue is why, when its clearly known how painful it is, (the disclaimer you sign prior to the procedure), you aren’t given at the very least a local anaesthetic beforehand. 

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The Campaign Against Painful Hysteroscopy hears this all the time - "It was like being tortured by nice people".  Regardless of how supportive and kind they were, they should not have let the procedure continue if you were showing signs of severe pain and distress which you clearly were (see below).  They do it without anaesthetic to save money. The hospitals aren't paid any more for hysteroscopies for GA in Day wards or conscious sedation with analgesia in OP which requires an anaesthetist, but they are clearly more costly. There seems to be a myth that women can endure pain because of childbirth, periods etc., so ok to do in outpatients.  In some clinics gas and air is available and sometimes women are offered local anaesthetic into the cervix, but research shows that this is largely ineffective for pain control.  Also the manufacturers of the hysteroscopes use the discomfort/acceptability/cost-saving factors to sell their equipment, thus compounding the myth.  They also give free training to hysteroscopists and pay for gynaecology conferences.

Below are the key points from the RCOG patient information leaflet.  All of this should have been explained to you before the procedure and before you signed the consent form, otherwise it isn't informed consent.  Too many gynae depts don't even tell their patients it might be painful, preferring to say you might feel cramping like period pains.  Nothing could be further from the truth for so many women.  It just destroys trust and many women won't return for more procedures, not even regular smear tests.

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant.  I had my procedure 8 years ago and become increasingly angry hearing that more and more women are suffering this barbaric procedure in this unnecessary way.  I've attached a couple of links below - one is to Care Opinion where you can post anonymously about the hospital and your experience - you'll find a lot of hysteroscopy accounts on there.  The other is to CAPH's survey - click on survey on Hysteroscopy Action webpage.  If you are on twitter you can follow the campaign @HysteroscopyA.

Best wishes for your recovery.





Key points

  • Outpatient hysteroscopy (OPH) is a procedure carried out in the outpatient clinic that involves examination of the inside of your uterus (womb) with a thin telescope.
  • There are many reasons why you may be referred for OPH, such as to investigate and/or treat abnormal bleeding, to remove a polyp seen on a scan or to remove a coil with missing threads.
  • The actual procedure usually takes 10–15 minutes. It can take longer if you are having any additional procedures.
  • You may feel pain or discomfort during OPH. It is recommended that you take pain relief 1–2 hours before the appointment.
  • If it is too painful, it is important to let your healthcare professional know as the procedure can be stopped at any time.
  • You may choose to have the hysteroscopy under general anaesthetic. This will be done in an operating theatre, usually as a daycase procedure.
  • Possible risks with hysteroscopy include pain, feeling faint or sick, bleeding, infection and rarely uterine perforation (damage to the wall of the uterus). The risk of uterine perforation is lower during OPH than during hysteroscopy under general anaesthesia. 
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Since April 2021 I’ve been seeing my doctor regarding heavy periods, uncontrollable pain, bloating and skin issues. I’m 26 and trying to have a child for the last year. Nothing was working.

upon seeing my doctor she could tell straight away by my face how much pain I was in and gave me anti-inflammatorys and Co-Codamol. I was then red flag to the gynaecologist.


I was seen 6 weeks later for an internal ultrasound. I found this painful but bearable, when looking at the scan she told me I had fibroids or polyps lining my uterus and would be refer for a hysteroscopy. I received a leaflet that day telling me what to expect.


4 weeks later I got my appointment, was dreading it and due to covid rules I wasn’t allowed anyone with me. I was told that it could be uncomfortable and that woman who hadn’t had chiller usually find it harder and it doesn’t always work, so don’t be disappointed. My consulted was lovely and the nurses were great. Sat in the chair raised up in the air with a Bucket placed underneath me. She entered my cervix and all was good, but the neck of my uterus was unusually small. I screamed in pain, felt faint, sick and thought I was going to pass out. She stopped and got me gas and air. It done nothing for me as she attempted again. Nothing didn’t work and told me I would be refer for GA. I went home cried, slept and was in the worse pain for 5 days.

Fastforward to 2 days ago. I had my hysteroscopy under GA, hospital was great and there were 8 woman 4 morning and 4 afternoon all having similar procedures so was nice to know I wasn’t alone. However I was the youngest and the rest were above 50, so I was alone in the sense of being there for different reasons. Went to sleep at 2.30ish and woke up at 4.30. My procedure seemed to run longer than expected. I woke up crying, I was in horrible pain and they had to give me 10ml of whatever painkiller they gave me. That knocked my pain from a 8 down to a 3. The nurse placed a pad in between my legs and then 2nurses rolled me and another checked my back and placed a pad under my bum to stop the blood from running over me. My uterus was filled with Saline during the procedure so that was also coming out. My consultant came to speak with me, I had no polyps or fibroids but my uterus was that thick and bulky it acted like one. This was abnormal and a biopsy was taken, my cervix is also unusually small and tight that she cut me on the way out. I bleed heavily while in hospital and told to keep and eye on this at home.

Since being home, I’ve been in pain pretty much all day. I have only eaten minimal food, drank what I can. I have pain peeing, lifting my arms in the air and get massive stabbing pains in my side. I was told the risk of infection is less than 1 in 100 and told to keep and eye on certain things. Currently I haven’t passed a number 2 and can’t have any weight on my tummy. Clothes feel tight and now I’m playing a waiting game on my results. 



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I’ve just had a hysteroscopy today. Well- it failed. 
I have long term heavy bleeding which has increased in frequency and also an ovarian cyst/endometriosis. I was referred for this procedure to check fro any abnormalities in the womb. 
Ive already had one attempt that was very painful right from when the speculum went in but the sample taken was insufficient. The pain was bad but not unbearable. I felt very emotional afterwards but I’m unsure why. 
Today was a reattempt with local anaesthetic gel and injection. Again it was painful right from the speculum, the injection and I could feel intense tugging pain inside my tummy abs she hadn’t even managed to get into the womb. 
The procedure was stopped- luckily by the doctor as I felt I should tolerate it and continue. I dread to think what the pain would have been like if I had. The doctor said she was unable to get into my womb as the neck of it was scarred badly from my 2 precious c sections. By this point I was sobbing- for some reason this procedure is very traumatic for me. Connnected to my trauma during birth maybe? 
I’ve been added to the waiting list to have the procedure done under a general but I am lucky enough to have private healthcare under my husbands work so am taking that route instead. 
I found this procedure more traumatic than both my emergency c sections and I don’t think I could ever do it again. I now worry about how a simple smear will affect me which I’ve been able to manage in the past. 
I don’t feel I was well enough informed. I expected the procedure with local to be ok- it was actually much worse for some reason. My private consultant is doing this procedure under a general. Enough said. 



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