Endometrial Biopsy: About This Test

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The uterus, endometrium, and cervix

What is it?

An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The sample is looked at under a microscope for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy helps your doctor find problems in the endometrium.

Why is this test done?

An endometrial biopsy is done to check for cancer of the uterus. The test is also done if you have abnormal bleeding from your uterus or are having problems getting pregnant. The test results show how your body's hormones are affecting the lining of the uterus.

How can you prepare for the test?

Talk to your doctor about all your health conditions before the test. For example, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are or might be pregnant. An endometrial biopsy is not done during pregnancy.
  • Are taking any medicines.
  • Are allergic to any medicines.
  • Have had bleeding problems, or if you take aspirin or some other blood thinner.
  • Have been treated for an infection in your pelvic area.
  • Have any heart or lung problems.

Other ways to prepare:

  • Do not douche, use tampons, or use vaginal medicines for 24 hours before the test.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), 30 to 60 minutes before the test. This can help reduce any cramping pain that the test can cause.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean.

What happens before the test?

  • You will empty your bladder just before the test.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

What happens during the test?

  • You will lie on an examination table. Your feet will be in stirrups.
  • The doctor may use a spray or injection to numb your cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus.
  • The doctor will use a tool called a speculum to see the cervix.
  • Then the doctor will pass a thin tube through the cervix to take a sample of the uterus lining. You may feel a sharp cramp when the doctor collects the sample.
  • The sample is sent to a lab.

How long does the test take?

The test will take about 5 to 15 minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You likely will have mild vaginal bleeding and may have cramps for a few days after the test. The cramps may feel like bad menstrual cramps.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not have sex, use tampons, or douche until the spotting stops. Use pads for vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for one day after your biopsy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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