Are Doctors Underestimating the Pain of Endometrial Biopsy?

My doctor right before my endometrial biopsy: “It’s similar to a pap smear. You may feel some cramping and pressure.”

She “forgot” to mention the stabbing pain, the scraping and slashing. She also “forgot” to tell me that there is a high chance I’d get dizzy, nauseous and shaky,  maybe even pass out.

endometrial biopsy

In 2015, I had a “surprise” endometrial biopsy.  Doctor asked me to come in to discuss my pelvic ultrasound results. Next thing I knew, she cut and scraped three samples from my cervix. I wasn’t offered any pain medication or anesthesia. After the biopsy, both the doctor and nurse quickly left the room. I felt incredibly dizzy, nauseous and shaky. My entire body was tingly and hot. I almost passed out. My first thought was something went terribly wrong. Later in the car, I fell apart and cried.

When I first wrote about my experience, I had no idea how many women have to put up with this insanely painful procedure. I have received over a hundred comments from women who describe this procedure as “barbaric” and “traumatizing”. Each time I read a new comment, my heart goes out to each and every lady.

Please take a few minutes to read some of the comments. Here’s what most of them have in common.

  • doctor downplayed the procedure
  •  “some pressure and cramping”
  •  “slight discomfort”
  •  was misinformed
  • wasn’t offered pain medication or anesthesia
  • felt sharp, stabbing pain
  • felt nauseous, dizzy, shaky
  • I passed out
  • I screamed

 

“I just had my biopsy a few hours ago. My dr. said I’d experience “cramping” at first, I thought I could handle it and then the searing pain deep inside was too much. I thought she was done and then she said she needed one more. I started sweating and crying and held my breath. This was one of the most painful procedures I’ve had done. I had to lie down for five minutes afterward to pull myself together. I went to my car and bawled my eyes out:(.”

 

“I had a EMB today and I will say it hurt like hell! I have a curved cervix so putting in the tool to open you was painful to start with. She measured my uterus…that hurt but once she started the procedure I couldnt help but to scream. She asked me if I could handle the procedure and not scream?? Clearly she has never had one. As soon as they start you naturally scream but I tried to keep from doing it by squeezing my own fat on my stomach! That was the only thing I could grab although it wasnt much to hold on to. She did 2 or 3 samples and I couldnt wait for her to be done! Once she was done I covered my face with my hands and was in so much pain all I could do was laugh hysterically then I started shaking then came the tears. I couldnt get up for about 10 min waiting for the pain to stop…it didnt so i got up and got dressed. I will never do this again..if it is needed they need to find a alternative method to get their sample by because I am not a gluten for punishment!!!”

 

This comment is really scary. Ladies, make sure someone can drive you.

“Thank you for this post. On June 18, 2018 I had this procedure done….mild discomfort during the procedure…got up got dressed and was told by my dr when leaving, if I ran a fever to go immediately to the emergency room……5 minutes later while driving home…had a massive vasovagal response and caused a massive motor vehicle collision. Do not mess with this stuff-have someone drive you always.”

 

Why in the world do they not tell us to have someone drive us?

Why are they subjecting us to so much pain? Why can’t they give us local anesthesia?

Why are doctors downplaying the pain?

This is NOT a standard procedure. An endometrial biopsy is NOT a “no big deal” procedure.

The dentist numbs your mouth to fill a cavity. Some even offer a numbing gel for a regular cleaning. I once had a biopsy done on my gums – didn’t feel a thing.

Why is it that  when a tooth is drilled it is numbed but when a piece is taken from the cervix , we have to “suck it up” and endure?

I hate to say it, is it because it’s a “woman thing”? Do they assume we have a higher tolerance for pain than men? Is it because we are women and they expect us “to suck it up”?

For so many women, an endometrial biopsy is pure hell and something needs to be done to improve this situation. There has to be a better way. I have two daughters and I don’t ever want them to experience this distressing and traumatic procedure.

How do we go about this? What can be done? Do we lobby? It’s frustrating that in the year 2018 women still have to endure this.  If anyone has any ideas on how to change this, please let me know.

 

13 thoughts on “Are Doctors Underestimating the Pain of Endometrial Biopsy?

  1. I had an endometrial biopsy done when I had a Mirena IUD inserted. I totally agree that doctors downplay this procedure. It was awkward and painful. I actually felt like ripping the tools out of my gynecologist’s hands so the pain would stop. I had a delayed vasovagal response and felt like passing out when I was driving home. I also think it’s downplayed because it’s a “female thing”. It should really be done under some kind of anesthesia or pain block. I’m scheduled to have another endometrial biopsy tomorrow prior to be given the okay for an endometrial ablation procedure. I am dreading it and am even thinking about canceling.

    1. Holly, I completely agree with you. Like you said, it’s a “female thing” and totally downplayed. Good luck with your future procedures. Hope they will be less painful.

  2. HI and thanks for your post. I had an endometrial biopsy four years ago and again today. The first time I took a look at the tool displayed which looked like a very long pair of scissors at least a foot long and I requested ibuprofen beforehand. My gyn gave me 800 mg which made the procedure tolerable but painful. This time I was told to take ibuprofen beforehand but I can’t because I have a stomach ulcer so I took one 500 mg of Tylenol. It was excruciating. My gyn was very skilled and quick and very informative. She told me when I was ready for each sweep to say “go.” I could only whisper as I tried to breath through the pain. She took 1 1/2 minutes to complete the biopsy. She explained that local anesthetic options require additional pain (shots in the cervix) and they do not affect the uterine cramping pain. She has found them to be ineffective. You are right that something needs to be done. It feels like a form of medieval torture. I cried before, after, and on my way to the car just from the sheer trauma of it. It should be performed under general anesthesia. It is ridiculous that women should have to suffer in such a way. Either the people making routine guidelines are ignorant of the true trauma and pain of this procedure or they don’t care.

    1. Laurie, my cyber hug is coming your way. I hate it so much that so many women suffer through this. There has to be a better way. You’re brave for going through this twice. Not sure I would have the guts to do it again. Ugh. Feel better and thank you for commenting on my little blog.

  3. I would consider complaining, complaining and complaining to perhaps certain boards like American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to start. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and the more wheels the better. Thanks!

  4. I had the procedure done about six hours ago and I am still fighting back tears. I had no idea how painful an experience this would be. Not to mention the fact that no one mentioned that I would possibly be passing blood clots of this size. I’m disappointed that my doctor or the office staff didn’t think that it was important that I needed to know what to expect.

      1. I posted on your blog an update to what ended up happening to me. I would love to post my story here as well. I want as many people as possible to know. We have to fight for change!

        Please, for the love of God, what can we do to improve this procedure for women in the future? I have been to Hell and back since having the biopsy done a few days ago. I was not told of any risks, nor did I sign any forms or given any paperwork. I was led to believe there would be some discomfort with possible cramping and spotting. The procedure was horrific in itself. The pain was excruciating. In conversation with the nurse, the doctor said that I had a lot more fluid than he would expect and that may be the source of my problem. I told him that it was making me sweat and I was hurting. Immediately afterward the doctor helped me sit up and asked if I felt nauseous or dizzy. I said that was painful but no I was ok. I put on the pad that the nurse gave me because I was bleeding. There was blood on the bed and on the floor. I drove straight home and was cramping and bleeding. I am a single mom and my son was gone so I was home alone, although thankfully my mom lives next door. I continued to bleed, but I assumed it was the “fluid” from my uterus. The doctor did not tell me to watch for any symptoms or anything. The bleeding became heavier and I started passing clots. In the middle of the night I was googling everything I could on the procedure. Reading some personal stories I discovered that many people experienced heavy bleeding for a few days and then it subsided so I continued to “tough it out”. By 730 the next morning I was bleeding through everything and passing clots the size of my fist. I called my mom and she came immediately. Before we could decide what to do I passed out on the toilet in front of her. I could go more into the horrors that I endured. She called 911 and I was rushed to a large hospital a couple of towns away, bypassing the smaller hospitals. I was unresponsive for about 30 minutes. At times I could hear what was being said and I fought hard to open my eyes, but I just couldn’t. My blood pressure was 55/30 and EMTs were saying that I was bleeding out. Thankfully, I started clotting on my own halfway to the hospital and began regaining consciousness. The ER staff was prepared to do an emergency hysterectomy, but because I had clotted they did not. I left the hospital on Sunday night. It is now Monday and I am still sore. I have a wonderful support group with my mom, children, friends, and coworkers. A woman from the doctors office called me at 8 am to tell me that the blood work they did came back okay and my biopsy results would be ready by my two week out appointment. I said that they should know that I had been hospitalized over the weekend and gave her a brief description of what had happened. Her unsatisfactory response was, “oh really, over a little procedure like that”. It is now 345 pm and the doctor’s office has not even had the decency to call and check on me, let alone the actual doctor calling. I would like to tell them to go to Hell, but instead I want to make changes. This is unacceptable in every way. Please someone…what can we do?

  5. I am just home from my visit to the gynecologist for this ‘routine’ procedure that II was told) results in ‘slight discomfort’ and ‘mild cramping’. “They haven’t lost anyone yet” is what they said to me when I called a few days ago to relay my concerns (after doing some research)… “I have never had anyone not be able to get thru the procedure”. Well doc, that was until today. I am 46yo, no children. Was unable to take the Cytotec (to thin my cervix) because I have asthma and apparently that was an issue. So because I have not had children and i couldn’t take the medication, my cervix is ‘thick’. I wasn’t even able to get thru the procedure. They inserted the speculum and then whatever the next step is (I think it was to measure the cervix). She said “ok, deep breath and some cramping”. I tried to breathe through it and I tried to beast my way through it. About 15 seconds later, I screamed NO NO NO and started hyper ventilating and crying. Fortunately, they stopped and will schedule me to have this procedure in the hospital under GA. I can’t for the life of me understand why women would be subjected to this barbaric traumatic violation of a procedure. I am shell shocked.

    1. Stacey, so sorry for what you went through. I don’t understand it either. Why do so many doctors think women should just “suck it up” and deal with it? Unacceptable.

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