Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a
surgical procedure used to locate and treat the cause of sudden, heavy
bleeding. It is done by passing a small instrument called a curette through the
vagina into the uterus and scraping the
D&C is typically an
outpatient procedure. A
general anesthetic is usually used, though a
spinal anesthetic may be used.
What To Expect After Surgery
The recovery period following D&C
is short, and most women are able to return to normal activities within 1 to 2
During the recovery period:
- Mild pelvic cramping may occur for a few
- A slight vaginal discharge may
- Intercourse, douching, and the use of tampons are not
usually permitted for 2 weeks.
- Your next menstrual period may be
early or late.
Why It Is Done
Dilation and curettage (D&C) is
used to diagnose and treat bleeding problems. It is used to control sudden,
heavy vaginal bleeding that is causing heavy blood loss (hypovolemia) or a low
number of red blood cells (anemia). D&C is the quickest way to stop active
bleeding in the uterus.
D&C is one method used to get a tissue
sample for testing. For example, a
postmenopausal woman who has vaginal bleeding is
usually tested for signs of
How Well It Works
- D&C usually temporarily stops heavy
biopsy of uterine tissue can be obtained for diagnosis
and to eliminate other possible causes of heavy menstrual
fibroids may be removed.
Recurrence. Sudden, heavy bleeding may stop for a period of time. But
heavy bleeding usually returns following D&C.
Complications from a D&C are rare but
- Puncture (perforation)
of the uterine wall.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Scarring of the lining of the uterus. This can make
it hard to become pregnant. Scarring can also make it hard for the
placenta to attach to the inside of the uterus.
What To Think About
Abnormal vaginal bleeding that is
not caused by cancer may naturally stop after
D&C may be needed to
endometrial cancer and to control vaginal bleeding
that is causing
The hospital or surgery center
may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery or a nurse may
call you with instructions before your surgery.
surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and
observe you. You will likely stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours, and
then you will go home. In addition to any special instructions from your
doctor, your nurse will explain information to help you during your recovery.
You will likely go home with a sheet of care instructions including who to
contact if a problem arises.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of
||March 12, 2014