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Early Pregnancy

At Women’s Ultrasound Centre, we understand that problems such as bleeding and pain in early pregnancy, although not uncommon, may provoke a great deal of anxiety. In most cases we are able to provide reassurance that all is well. However if there is something wrong we are able to arrange treatment for any problems that may occur including the expectant, medical and surgical management of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

Our specialists assess early pregnancies using transvaginal ultrasonography, which is perfectly safe to perform in early pregnancy and enables your baby to be seen earlier than through an abdominal scan. During your visit, prior to the ultrasound scan, you will be asked to give a brief outline of the problem that you are experiencing, the first day of your last period (LMP) and your medical history. If you have not had a pregnancy test, you may be asked to provide a urine sample for this to be carried out. Following the ultrasound scan, a report will be prepared immediately. You will be provided with a copy of this report and, with your consent, a copy will be emailed to your GP/specialist. In some cases, the ultrasound findings are not conclusive and further investigations are required, which may include blood tests to assess your pregnancy hormone level (bHCG) or a repeat ultrasound scan after a time period.

Early Pregnancy Assessment FAQs

Q: Will I need to drink lots of water and have a full bladder for my appointment?
A: No – an empty bladder makes the examination easier for us.

Q: What do you mean by ‘transvaginal ultrasound’?
A: Ultrasound works by sending out sound waves at a target (in this case your womb) and then analysing the pattern produced by the echoes that are bounced back. You will probably be familiar with scans carried out during pregnancy – these are performed by passing a probe over the stomach.

These often require the bladder to be very full. In early pregnancy or when scanning for gynaecological problems it is better to place the probe in the vagina closer to the area of interest. In this way clearer images can be obtained (and for example in pregnancy the heartbeat of the embryo can be seen at least a week earlier).

The vaginal probe is about the size of a tampon and for most women the examination is not uncomfortable. If it is the examination will be stopped. A further advantage of this approach is that the bladder does not need to be full which should make both waiting and the examination more comfortable.

Q: What do they do to the probe between examinations?
A: During the examination the probe is covered with a thick latex sheath rather like a condom. Between scans the probe is cleaned with Tristel – which is a chlorine dioxide based disinfectant. This acts as a sporicidal disinfectant for invasive probes, a bactericidal and virucidal for skin surface transducers and is effective against MRSA. It is safe for patients and users, easy to apply and effective in 30 seconds.

Q: What is the point of the blood test?
A: The blood test measures the level of a hormone called hCG in the bloodstream. This hormone is produced from the outset of a pregnancy. We know what the level of this hormone should be for any particular stage of an early pregnancy and also the rate at which it should rise or fall. This is useful in diagnosing either en ectopic pregnancy or a failing pregnancy.