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

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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 typically an outpatient surgery, usually using a general anesthesia, meaning you are asleep for the procedure. In some instances, other forms of anesthesia may be used. 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.

"It all seemed so fast. One minute I was kissing my husband good bye in the pre-op area, the next minute he was holding my hand," said April. "My husband said it wasn't quite that fast for him, but that I was only gone for less than an hour. I wasn't in pain when I woke up, but my pelvis felt full. The anesthesia made me sleepy, so even when I got home, I just went to bed. We didn't even really talk about it until the next day. I was glad my husband stayed home with me, but it wasn't for the physical need."

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.

If you are thinking about another pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor or midwife about when you should try to conceive again. In general, you should wait until you have at least had one period. There may also be other medical factors that would cause you to want to wait. Some families wish to try again right away, while others need more time. There is not one right answer.


Gabbe, Niebyl, Simpson, et al. Normal and Problem Pregnancies, 6th Edition.

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