Dilation and Curettage Recovery: What to Expect After a D&C

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What is Dilation and Curettage?

Dilation is a medical procedure that involves opening and stretching the cervix, the entrance to the uterus, to make it wider. Curettage is a procedure used to scrape and remove the uterus lining, called the endometrium. When these two procedures are done together, it is called dilation and curettage or a D&C.

Reasons for the Procedure

A dilation and curettage (D&C) is typically performed to find out the reason for abnormal bleeding. By doing a D&C, the sample of the endometrium can be examined with a microscope to see if any of the cells are abnormal. A D&C may be done after a woman has a miscarriage or while one is going on. The tissue from the pregnancy might stay in the uterus when this happens. However, many times a D&C is done to eliminate this tissue. This is critical since the tissue may initiate heavy bleeding or infection.

At times, a dilation and curettage is performed to stop the bleeding instead of diagnosing the bleeding problem. This is usually performed after a delivery or miscarriage when some or all of the placenta may have remained in the uterus.

Dilation and Curettage Recovery

After the D&C is completed, the patient is taken to the recovery room for a few hours. After that initial recovery period is complete, she is ready to go home but will need assistance from someone since she should not be driving.

The dilation and curettage recovery is relatively simple. There may be some vomiting and nausea when you wake up, along with a sore throat if general anesthesia was given. You also might feel weak and a little groggy for a little while. During dilation and curettage recovery, you may experience mild cramping, vaginal bleeding and discharge for awhile. The physician may prescribe medication for pain if it is uncomfortable.

After having a D&C, be sure to call your physician if any of the following things happen:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and nausea that does not stop
  • Infection symptoms that include chills and fever, pain increase, or offensive smelling vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding that soaked through more than one sanitary pad per hour
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or cough

Most activity can return to normal within a few days, but consult your doctor before returning to work.

After dilation and curettage recovery, the uterus builds up a new lining. Bacteria can penetrate the uterus and cause infection so until the cervix goes back to its normal size, do not put anything into your vagina. Talk to your doctor about when it is safe to engage in sex or use tampons. The next menstrual period after a D&C may not happen at the normal time. It might be late or early and this is normal.

During dilation and curettage recovery, your doctor should receive the lab report on the tissue that was removed. During the follow-up appointment, the physician will make any suggestions for supplementary procedures that might be needed.

References

D and C (Dilation and Curettage). (2010). Retrieved January 9, 2011, from WebMD.com: https://women.webmd.com/guide/d-and-c-dilation-and-curettage?page=2

Dilation and Curettage. (2005). Retrieved January 9, 2011, from The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: https://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp062.cfm

Dilation and Curettage. (2010, September 20). Retrieved January 9, 2011, from Aurora Health Care: https://www.aurorahealthcare.org/yourhealth/healthgate/getcontent.asp?URLhealthgate=%2214802.html%22