Understanding the Endocervical Curettage
(ECC) Procedure

What to expect before your endocervical curettage procedure

Endocervical curettage (ECC) is a gynecological procedure that women might encounter when being screened for specific health conditions like cancer. The cervix is a narrow area that makes up the bottom part of your womb. Your cervix opens into your vagina, making it a vital part of your reproductive system. During this procedure, your doctor will take a closer look at the tissue inside your cervix.

Here’s what to expect before you go in.

What is an endocervical curettage?

Endocervical curettage involves removing tissue samples from the cervix for diagnostic purposes. This diagnostic procedure is considered useful for diagnosing a broad range of conditions. For the most part, this procedure is deemed to be safe as long as proper preparations are made.

The doctor performing the procedure will use a speculum in your vagina to help see your cervix better and ensure the sample is taken with greater precision.

Why is this procedure done?

One of the most common reasons for this procedure is to find out what is causing abnormal uterine bleeding. When polyps are the cause of your bleeding, they might be removed during this procedure, potentially eliminating the need for a separate procedure.

Other conditions that doctors might try to diagnose with this procedure include HPV infection, cancer and genital warts. Tissue samples provide one of the best means of an accurate diagnosis for these conditions.

How is an endocervical curettage procedure done?

A tenaculum helps keep the cervix in place during the procedure. A spoon-shaped tool, known as an "ECC curette," allows the doctor to scoop a thin tissue sample from the cervical wall. The sample makes it possible for doctors to have a more accurate diagnosis.

Once the piece of tissue has been removed, it will be placed in a cotton pad for shipment. The receiving lab will use the sample to check for cancer or other abnormalities. Your doctor's office will receive the results and discuss them with you.

After receiving the results from the lab, your doctor will have a better idea of how to go forward based on any findings from the procedure. The course of action could involve further tests such as blood work and imaging.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

You might need to stop taking certain medications before your procedure. The doctor will advise you on what to do.

If you are pregnant, your doctor will not perform an endocervical curettage due to potential risks for the pregnancy. There are some other kinds of biopsies and tests that may be done during the pregnancy.

If you're currently on your period, you might need to talk to your doctor about rescheduling. Most doctors prefer to not perform this procedure during menstruation. You may need to think of rescheduling to at least a week after your period ends.

Refrain from sexual intercourse for about 3 days before the procedure. You should also avoid vaginal douches or similar products, such as anti-itch creams. Otherwise, there might be an impact on the test results.

The procedure might be done in either an outpatient surgical center or a hospital, and you should think about having a ride home lined up afterward due to the anesthesia. Typically, you won't need to stay in the hospital after having your endocervical curettage.

Is an endocervical curettage painful?

Most patients describe their discomfort as feeling more like cramping or pressure than sharp pain.

You might experience some discomfort after the procedure. However, you shouldn't allow pain to deter you from recommended follow-up care. The sooner these conditions are detected, the sooner your doctors can respond with treatment.

What are the possible risks and complications?

As with any medical procedure, there are a few risks that you should be aware of before moving forward. These risks include cervical injury, infection and bleeding.

Cervical injury may involve surgery. Infections in this part of the body may include antibiotic treatments that require a stay in the hospital. Bleeding is also a rare side effect.

How long will my recovery time be?

The recovery time after an endocervical curettage procedure can take around 48 hours. Exercise should be avoided for 24 hours after the curettage has been performed. Refraining from activity helps avoid straining the area while everything is healing.

You should also avoid sexual intercourse for 2 days after your procedure to prevent re-injury during the healing process.

Undergoing a procedure is always easier when working with a health provider who you know and trust. The compassionate North Florida gynecologists at All About Women in Gainesville and Lake City are passionate about providing competent care in a relaxing and comfortable setting. Contact our team today with any questions regarding an endocervical curettage.