Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound Painful? What to Expect

Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022
Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound Painful
Although a transvaginal ultrasound may cause mild discomfort, it isn’t painful because the probe that is inserted into the vagina is lubricated and smooth

Although a transvaginal ultrasound may cause mild discomfort, it isn’t painful. The scan involves inserting a lubricated, smooth, wand-like probe into the vagina. If you relax and take deep breaths while the procedure is being done, you will probably be less uncomfortable.

A transvaginal ultrasound is an internal scan of your reproductive organs that provides detailed images of your pelvic region.

When is a transvaginal ultrasound performed?

Transvaginal ultrasounds are usually performed after a regular abdominal ultrasound when clear and more detailed images of the reproductive organs—especially the fallopian tubes and uterus—are required, such as for:

  • Assessment of early pregnancy (when a period is just missed)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Fibroids (benign growths in the uterus)
  • Polyps (areas of thickening of the lining of the uterus)
  • Ovarian cysts or tumors
  • Infertility

What happens during a transvaginal ultrasound?

In most cases, no special preparations are needed for a transvaginal ultrasound. Depending on why you are getting the scan done, your bladder may need to be empty or partially full.

You will have to lie down on an examination table and place both feet in stirrups. The technician or doctor will wrap the ultrasound transducer in a latex or plastic sheath, apply lubricating gel, and then insert it a few inches into your vagina. You may feel some pressure while the wand is pressed inside.

It takes anywhere between 15-30 minutes to complete the scan.

Does a transvaginal ultrasound have any side effects or risks?

Side effects after a transvaginal ultrasound are very rare. The only thing that you may notice is mild vaginal discharge due to the lubrication gel. However, this should go away within 24 hours.

Unlike other imaging tests, a transvaginal ultrasound does not use radiation, which increases the risk of cancer when done frequently. Because the test uses sound waves, you can get it performed multiple times without risks or complications.

If you are pregnant, the test will not cause any harm to your unborn baby. Your doctor may advise against a transvaginal ultrasound, however, in certain conditions:

  • Premature rupture of membrane: When your waters have broken early, but you are not in labor, a transvaginal ultrasound can cause infection in your baby.
  • Placenta previa: If you have placenta previa (low-lying placenta) and are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, a transvaginal ultrasound can increase bleeding and should be avoided.


The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Pelvic Ultrasound.

Moorthy RS. Transvaginal sonography. Med J Armed Forces India. 2000 Jul;56(3):181-183. doi: 10.1016/S0377-1237(17)30160-0