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What is a D & C? (Dilation and Curettage)


Updated May 16, 2014

Female doctor examining woman with stethoscope in hospital
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Question: What is a D & C? (Dilation and Curettage)
Answer: A D & C is also known as a dilation and curettage. It is frequently performed when a pregnant woman is known to have suffered a miscarriage, blighted ovum or missed abortion (Where the baby died but a miscarriage did not spontaneously occur.). A D & C is not always necessary after or during a miscarriage. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what type of care is best.

It is an outpatient surgery usually using a general anesthesia, meaning you are asleep for the procedure. After you are asleep, a series of tools called dilators are used to open the cervix (mouth of your uterus). Then a hollow tube is placed through the open cervix to remove whatever tissue remains in the uterus. The whole surgery lasts just a few minutes.

You will usually be sent home within a few hours of your surgery to recover at home. Most women chose to take a day or two off from work at least. Because besides a physical recovery there is the emotional recovery as well.

The risks of the D & C include infection, perforation of the uterus and pain. Most women will have cramping or spotting for at least a few days after the surgery. Your doctor will tell you what over the counter products to take or prescribe your pain medication if appropriate. You normally will return to your normal menstrual cycles within 6-10 weeks.

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