Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

This information will help you prepare for dilation and curettage (D&C), including what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.

Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure in which your cervix is dilated (enlarged) and tissue is removed from the inside of your uterus. The tissue is removed with a thin instrument called a curette.

You may also have a hysteroscopy at the same time as your D&C. A hysteroscopy is a procedure in which a thin scope with a light and a camera on the end is inserted into your uterus through your vagina. This allows your doctor to see the lining of your uterus and look for anything abnormal.

Purpose of a D&C

A D&C is done to diagnose or treat various conditions of the uterus. It also can be used to clear the lining of the uterus after a miscarriage or abortion.

Most commonly, a D&C is done to find the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding. Examples of abnormal uterine bleeding include:

  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Bleeding after vaginal intercourse, including light spots of blood.
  • Heavy, irregular, or long periods.
  • Sudden vaginal bleeding after a year or longer without getting a period.

This bleeding can be caused by:

  • Endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the lining of the uterus. A D&C can help in diagnosing early stages of the cancer.
  • Fibroids, which are growths of the uterus that are made up of connective tissue and muscle fiber. Most of the time, they are benign (noncancerous).
  • Polyps, which are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity. They are usually benign, although some can be cancerous or precancerous. Polyps can be removed during a D&C.
  • Hyperplasia, which is abnormal growth of the lining of the uterus. Most forms of hyperplasia are benign.
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Before Your Procedure

Ask about your medications

You may need to stop taking some of your medications before your procedure. We have included some common examples below.

  • If you take medication to thin your blood, ask the doctor who prescribes it for you when to stop taking it. Some examples are warfarin (Coumadin®), dalteparin (Fragmin®), heparin, tinzaparin (Innohep®), enoxaparin (Lovenox®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), and cilostazol (Pletal®).
  • If you take insulin or other medications for diabetes, you may need to change the dose. Ask the doctor who prescribes your diabetes medications what you should do the morning of your procedure.

Arrange for someone to take you home

You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you don’t have someone to do this, call one of the agencies below. They will send someone to go home with you. There’s usually a charge for this service, and you will need to provide transportation.

Agencies in New York                                         Agencies in New Jersey
Partners in Care: 888-735-8913                                         Caring People: 877-227-4649
Caring People: 877-227-4649                                          


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The Day Before Your Procedure

Note the time of your procedure

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your procedure. They will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your procedure. If you’re scheduled for procedure on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you don’t receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

Instructions for eating and drinking before your procedure

12 ounces of water

  • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your procedure. This includes hard candy and gum.
  • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of water (see figure).
  • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water.
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The Day of Your Procedure

Things to remember

  • Take only the medications your doctor told you to take the morning of your procedure. Take them with a few sips of water.

What to expect

You will be shown to a dressing room and asked to remove all clothing, jewelry, dentures, and contact lenses. You will be given a hospital gown to put on.

After changing into a hospital gown, you will meet your nurse. He or she nurse will bring you into the procedure room and assist you onto the operating bed. If you feel cold, ask your nurse for some blankets.

A member of your anesthesia team will place an intravenous (IV) catheter into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. At first, you will receive fluids through the IV, but it will be used later to give you anesthesia (medication to make you sleep during your procedure). You will be attached to equipment to monitor your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

You will receive anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) through your IV. Once you are asleep, your doctor will start your procedure.

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After Your Procedure

In the hospital

  • You will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), where your nurse will monitor your temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. You will stay in the PACU until you are fully awake. You may receive oxygen while you are sleeping.
  • When you are fully awake, you will be brought to a second recovery area. You will be able to drink some tea or juice, eat a light snack, and see your visitors.
  • You may have some dull cramping in your lower abdomen. Ask your nurse for medication to relieve any pain.
  • Your nurse will give you instructions on how to care for yourself at home. You must have a responsible adult with you when you’re discharged from the recovery area.

At home

  • You may feel drowsy from the effects of the pain medication. It is important to have someone with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure.
  • For 2 weeks after your procedure, or as instructed by your doctor, do not:
    • Douche
    • Use tampons
    • Have vaginal intercourse
  • You can shower. Ask your doctor when you can take a bath.
  • You may have some cramping and vaginal bleeding similar to a menstrual period. This may last for several days after your procedure. Use sanitary pads for vaginal discharge.
  • Call your doctor to schedule your follow-up appointment.
  • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Vaginal bleeding that is heavier than your usual menstrual flow
  • Pain that is not relieved by the medication your doctor recommended
  • Swelling in your abdomen
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
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