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A D&C, dilation and curettage, is the procedure of widening the cervix and then partially removing the uterine lining and other contents of the uterus. It is used as a diagnostic tool, to terminate a normally developing pregnancy (abortion), and to complete miscarriages during which the pregnancy tissues were not naturally expelled by the body. Let's take a closer look at this tool.

Heavy menstrual bleeding

One of the main two reasons to carry out a D&C is heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding, or vaginal bleeding after the menopause. As part of a wider gynecological investigation, D&Cs can be used as a diagnostic tool when the uterine lining is scraped, heavy periods cannot only disappear for a while, but collected tissues can be used to identify the problem.


Abortions are still carried out in this way in some countries, but there are methods available that carry less risk in terms of infection and permanent damage to the uterus or cervix.

D&C following a miscarriage

If you have had an ultrasound in early pregnancy, either routine or as a result of signs and symptoms of miscarriage like vaginal bleeding or cramps, some doctor may suggest a D&C to remove the tissues that remain in your uterus. In some cases, small parts of an embryo or fetus, or the placenta, can remain behind. This can lead to infection. In the majority of miscarriages, a D&C is not necessary because the body will completely all the steps itself. When you are considering whether to have a D&C after an ultrasound showed your baby has no heartbeat, take into account that the procedure does carry some risks.

I wouldn't tell you to rely on an anecdote, but I personally know a woman who was told to have a D&C because her baby had already passed in the womb, and the doctor thought it would be traumatizing for her to wait any longer for the miscarriage to complete naturally. She refused, and now has a teenager (the "dead" fetus)! A wrong diagnosis is always a possibility. Furthermore, a D&C can cause permanent damage to your uterus and cervix. This can lead to problems in maintaining a pregnancy, or childbirth-related complications. If you are unsure of the risks, talk to your doctor and seek a second opinion if you feel the need.

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