Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG
Who Gets the Test?
Many women get a transvaginal ultrasound in their first trimester. At this stage of your pregnancy, they're more accurate than abdominal ultrasounds. If you have any complications during pregnancy, such as pain or bleeding, you may need one later as well.
What the Test Does
Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of your baby in the womb. With a transvaginal ultrasound, a technician inserts a small probe into your vagina to get a clearer image of your tiny baby.
Transvaginal ultrasounds check your baby's heartbeat and the placenta. They can rule out problems, such as ectopic pregnancies. They also show problems with the cervix -- such as "short cervix" -- that raise your risk of early labor.
How the Test Is Done
You'll lie on a table with your feet in stirrups. It's like a pelvic exam. The technician will insert a small, lubricated probe into your vagina. (If it makes you more comfortable, ask if you can do it yourself.) It shouldn't hurt, but you may feel uncomfortable pressure.
The technician will watch images on a screen and adjust the probe. The whole test will take about 30 to 60 minutes. Transvaginal ultrasounds are safe for you and your baby.
What to Know About Test Results
After the ultrasound, your doctor will study the results and talk to you. If there's anything unusual, you may get further tests.
How Often the Test Is Done During Pregnancy
The test is usually done just once, during the first trimester. Your doctor may suggest you get the test more often if there are concerns about your baby's health.
Other Names for This Test
Tests Similar to This One
Ultrasound, Level II Ultrasound