Ultrasound is a cyclic sound pressure at average frequency of 20 kHz, above the human’s hearing ability.
Gynecologic sonogram works like a sonar in a submarine: it sends a beam out, and if the beam encounters a solid object (i.e. another submarine, a rock, a cyst, a fibroid, cancer) it returns its image by displaying it on the screen. There are many other uses for ultrasound and you can do your own search for general knowledge.
There are two (2) types of diagnostic gynecologic sonograms that are typically used to visualize the female pelvis:
- Trans-abdominal, which is completely external: the transducer (ultrasound wand, or probe) is rolled on the belly/lower abdomen after the patient has drank enough fluid to fill the bladder that will act as the needed water medium for the sound waves. During pregnancy (obstetric ultrasound), the amniotic fluid acts as the water-medium while the test is done to assess the development of the fetus; the parents-to-be benefit by being given an image photo of their baby.
- Vaginal, an internal procedure: the transducer is inserted into the vagina and is moved about the organs (uterus, cervix, ovaries, bladder, fallopian tubes) for best visualization. To provide a water medium, the transducer is inserted into a lubrication-filled protective cover that looks like a condom. This test provides the best imaging of the internal organs.
Vaginal ultrasound may pose a problem for women who struggle with vaginismus or are just nervous about ‘anything going into the vagina.’ A useful tip: let the person who does the test (the doctor, the radiology technician, etc.) know that you would like to insert the transducer yourself. Once it is in, have them grab hold of it and proceed with the procedure.
If penetration is not at all possible, ask for a trans-abdominal ultrasound instead, and return for a vaginal one as soon as you have cured your vaginismus.
To learn more about the test and to see what the equipment looks like, click here.