1. Health

D&C Dilation and Curettage

How to Prepare, What to Expect, Recovery, and Possible Complications


Updated May 16, 2014

How Am I Prepared for D&C?

  • Do not eat or drink anything before surgery for a time period to be determined by your doctor.
  • Before the surgery starts an antiseptic will be used to cleanse the skin around the vagina and cervix.

Be sure to ask your doctor if there are any additional preparations that you should make before your dilation and curettage.

What Are The Steps For Dilation And Curettage?

  • The doctor completely inspects the pelvic reproductive organs for any abnormal changes.
  • Next, a speculum is inserted into the vagina to open the walls so the doctor can see the cervix.
  • A clamp-like instrument holds the cervix in place.
  • The cervix is dialated with a series of tapered rods of increasing widths which are inserted into the cervical opening (the OS).
  • A curette is passed through the uterus and used to scrape the uterine walls. This loosens pieces of the lining which are removed and sent to a lab for microscopic examination. Another method of obtaining a sample of the uterine lining is by applying suction through a narrow tube.

What To Expect After Surgery

You may have some discomfort from general anesthesia which can include nausea, vomiting, and a sore throat that can last a few days. Many women will notice mild cramping for a few days following D&C, as well as spotting or slight bleeding for up to a week. Your next period may be early or late.

You will need a friend or family member to accompany you home a few hours after your D&C. The affects of anesthesia wear off at different rates for each individual; however you should be able to drive and return to normal activities within a few days.

Points To Remember After D&C

  • To prevent bacteria from entering the cervix following D&C, you should refrain from sexual intercourse, tampon use, and douches for at least a week.
  • Showering, bathing, or swimming is permitted as soon as you feel well enough.
  • Notify your doctor if fever, abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, or a vaginal discharge with a bad odor occur.
  • Make sure you follow up with your doctor as recommended after the surgery.

Complications of Dilation and Curettage

As with any surgical procedure it's important for you to understand any possible complications or risks. Although complications with D&C are rare they can include:
  • A perforation of the uterine wall caused by the tip of the surgical instrument. This injury rarely requires treatment (additional surgery) and heals on its own.
  • Excessive bleeding is always a risk during surgery.
  • Another rare complication is infection with pain and fever.

Have You Had A D&C?

Join the Discussion

"My doctor wants to do a D&C without anesthetic. Is this unusual? I'm afraid it will hurt really bad."

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.