Risks of a D&C
In the event of a miscarriage or otherwise abnormal pregnancy, you may elect to undergo a dilation & curettage (D&C) procedure. A D&C can be a first line treatment option for clearing the uterus, or in cases where body does not expel all tissue from the on its own. In this case, a D&C is necessary in order to stop bleeding and prevent hemorrhage.
During a D&C procedure, a woman is sedated and her cervix is dilated in order to allow a scalpel or vacuum into the uterus to remove tissue associated with pregnancy. This outpatient procedure is generally very routine and free of complications. There can be associated risks, however.
The most common complication of a D&C, according to the Mayo Clinic, would be the perforation of the uterus. In this instance a cutting object would inadvertently poke a hole in the wall of the uterus during the clearing of the pregnancy tissue. Generally these perforations will heal on their own and only represent real concern if a blood vessel or secondary organ is damaged.
More rare complications of a D&C can include:
- Damage to the cervix- It is possible for the cervix to be torn during the procedure. If this were to happen the doctor would apply pressure to the cervix and then use stitches to repair the tear.
- Scar tissue or adhesions inside of the uterus- Known as Asherman’s Syndrome, the development of scar tissue in the uterus happens in roughly 30% of D&C patients. This condition, which becomes more likely with each subsequent D&C, can lead to painful, absent, or otherwise abnormal menstrual cycles. Additionally, it can lead to difficulty with future fertility, occasionally resulting in increased miscarriages or total infertility.
- Infection- While incredibly rare, infection can occur following the procedure. Infections are often detected by a fever or odorous vaginal discharge.
You’ll want to pay close attention to your body following the D&C to ensure that you’re healing properly. Be sure to call your doctor right away if you experience heavy bleeding, bleeding lasting longer than 2 weeks, fever, cramping lasting more than 48 hours, foul smelling discharge, or pain that gets worse (as opposed to more manageable) as the days progress.