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Ultrasound is like ordinary sound except it has a frequency (or pitch) higher than human beings can hear. When sent into your body through a transducer (either resting on your skin or inserted into a body cavity, such as the vagina), the sound is reflected off internal structures. The returning sounds (echoes) are received by the transducer and converted by a specialized computer into an image of the internal structures that can be viewed on a monitor similar to a television screen.

Why Might I Have a Pelvic Ultrasound Exam?

Information obtained from a manual pelvic exam alone may be incomplete. With a pelvic sonogram, the uterus and ovaries are visualized. The sonogram may help explain findings from the manual exam or provide additional information. Common indications for a pelvic ultrasound examination include pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and suspicion of an abnormality on a manual gynecologic examination.

How Long Will the Examination Take?

A typical pelvic sonogram requires fewer than 30 minutes. However, the length of time may vary greatly depending on how easily the necessary information is obtained and on the complexity of the findings.

Are There Any Special Preparations?

Preparations for vaginal scanning are similar to those for a routine manual pelvic examination. You will be asked to empty your bladder prior to the exam and to disrobe from the waist down. You will need to assume a position similar to the one used for a Pap smear.