What Is an Endometrial Biopsy?
An endometrial biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue
from the endometrium (the lining of the
uterus). This tissue sample can show cell changes due to abnormal
tissues or variations in hormone levels.
Taking a small sample of endometrial tissue helps your doctor
diagnose certain medical conditions. A biopsy can also check for uterine
infections such as endometritis.
An endometrial biopsy can be performed in the doctor’s office
without the use of anesthesia. Typically, it takes about 10 minutes to complete.
Why Is an Endometrial Biopsy Performed?
An endometrial biopsy may be performed to help diagnose
abnormalities of the uterus. It can also rule out other diseases.
Your doctor may want to perform an endometrial biopsy to:
- find the cause of postmenopausal bleeding or abnormal
- screen for endometrial cancer
- evaluate fertility
- test your response to hormone therapy
You can’t get an endometrial biopsy during pregnancy and
shouldn’t if you have any of the following conditions:
- a blood-clotting disorder
- acute pelvic inflammatory disease
- acute cervical or vaginal infection
- cervical cancer
- cervical stenosis (severe narrowing of the
How Do I Prepare for an Endometrial Biopsy?
Endometrial biopsy during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. Tell
your doctor if you’re pregnant or if there’s a chance you may be. Your doctor might
want you to take a pregnancy test before the biopsy to ensure you aren’t
Your doctor may also want you to keep a record of your menstrual
cycles before the biopsy. This is usually requested if the test needs to be
done at a particular time during your cycle.
Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications
you’re taking. You might have to stop taking blood-thinning medications before
an endometrial biopsy. These medications can interfere with the blood’s ability
to clot properly. Your doctor will probably want to know whether you have any
bleeding disorders or you’re allergic to latex or iodine.
An endometrial biopsy can be slightly uncomfortable. You may want
to take ibuprofen or another pain reliever an hour or two before the procedure.
Your doctor may give you a light sedative before the biopsy. The sedative may
make you drowsy, so you shouldn’t drive until the effects have fully worn off.
You may want to ask a friend or family member to drive you home after the
What Happens During an Endometrial Biopsy?
Before the biopsy, you’ll robe or medical gown in an exam room.
You’ll lay on a table with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor will do a quick pelvic
exam. They’ll also clean your vagina and cervix. Your doctor may put a clamp on
your cervix to keep it steady during the procedure. You might feel pressure or
slight discomfort from the clamp.
Your doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube called a pipelle through the opening of your
cervix. The pipelle will extend several inches into the uterus. Then they’ll
pull a thin wire out of the center of the pipelle to create suction. They’ll
move the pipelle back and forth to get a tissue sample from the lining of the
uterus. The entire procedure typically takes about 10 minutes.
The sample of tissue is put in fluid and sent to the laboratory for
analysis. Your doctor should have the results approximately 7 to 10 days after
You may experience some light spotting or bleeding after the
procedure. Your doctor will give you a sanitary pad to wear. Mild cramping is
also normal. You may be able to take a pain reliever to help with cramping, but
be sure to ask your doctor.
Don’t use tampons or have sexual intercourse for several days
after an endometrial biopsy. Depending on your past medical history, your
doctor might provide you with additional instructions after the procedure.
What Are the Risks Associated with an
Like other invasive procedures, there’s a small risk of
infection. There’s also a risk of puncturing the uterine wall, but this is very
Some bleeding and discomfort is normal. Call your doctor if you
have any of the following symptoms:
- bleeding for more than two days after the biopsy
- heavy bleeding
- fever or chills
- severe pain in the lower abdomen
- abnormal or foul-smelling vaginal discharge
What Do the Results Mean?
An endometrial biopsy is normal when no abnormal cells or cancer
is found. Results are considered abnormal when:
- a benign (noncancerous) growth is present
- endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the
endometrium) is present
- cancerous cells are present
You can find more information and additional resources about
endometrial cancer at www.healthline.com/health/endometrial-cancer.