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Women’s Health Library

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Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

Surgery Overview

Dilation and curettage is a type of procedure. It is often called a D&C. It removes tissue from inside your uterus. The doctor may do this to find out if the tissue is not normal. Or it might be done to stop severe bleeding.

During a D&C, the cervix is opened gently so that tissue can be removed, usually with a scraping or suction tool. A D&C may be done in a hospital or clinic.

The procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes. You will probably go home the same day.

What To Expect

  • Most women are able to return to normal activities in a day or two.
  • You may have mild pelvic cramping for a few hours.
  • You may have a small amount of vaginal discharge.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
  • Your next period may be early or late.

Why It Is Done

Dilation and curettage (D&C) may be used to:

  • Find and treat bleeding problems.
  • Control sudden, heavy vaginal bleeding that is causing heavy blood loss or a low number of red blood cells (anemia).
  • Get a tissue sample for testing. For example, a postmenopausal woman who has vaginal bleeding may be tested for signs of endometrial cancer.

How Well It Works

D&C usually stops heavy menstrual bleeding. The stop in bleeding may be temporary.

Risks

A D&C has risks, but problems are rare. The risks include:

  • Infection.
  • Puncture of the uterine wall.
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Scarring of the lining of the uterus. This can make it hard to get pregnant.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 23, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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