Transvaginal Ultrasound During Pregnancy

Ultrasound image showing two gestational sacs
Chris Sternal-Johnson / Getty Images

A transvaginal ultrasound during pregnancy uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasounds) to create images of your internal organs as well as a developing fetus. Using a wand-like instrument that's inserted into the vaginal canal rather than over the abdomen, this type of ultrasound provides a clearer view into the uterus, especially early on in pregnancy.

Your doctor may order a transvaginal ultrasound for a variety of purposes, including early pregnancy confirmation and due date calculation. The test is not dangerous for you or your fetus. Learn more about transvaginal ultrasound during pregnancy.

What Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound?

This type of ultrasound is an internal examination and is done transvaginally, which means “through the vagina.” Regular or transabdominal ultrasounds use different, larger "wands" (technically called transducers) that rest on the top of the abdomen, while a transvaginal procedure is performed by inserting a wand a few inches into the vagina.

Both types of ultrasounds allow you to view the images on a monitor on the ultrasound machine. Often, transvaginal ultrasound, which is also called endovaginal ultrasound or pelvic ultrasound, provides a better view of the reproductive organs because it can get closer to the structures it's examining and the ultrasound waves do not have to travel through the abdomen.

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Your Baby's Ultrasound: What to Expect

Uses of Transvaginal Ultrasound During Pregnancy

This exam is used most frequently during the first trimester. The images from a transvaginal ultrasound are just as good as, if not better than, those created with abdominal ultrasounds.

Some doctors prefer to use these tests more frequently than others. Sometimes, your provider may do the procedure themselves during your pregnancy confirmation visit or at a regular prenatal exam, or you may be seen by a separate provider who will conduct the exam. When performed during pregnancy, this type of ultrasound is typically used for:

How to Prepare for Transvaginal Ultrasound

Most of the time, there is nothing you need to do to prepare for a transvaginal ultrasound during pregnancy. In some instances, though, your doctor may provide you with a series of instructions before the appointment, especially if you will need to drink something beforehand.

For example, sometimes a partially full bladder is preferred, and other times an empty bladder is needed. If a partially full bladder is needed, you will drink water about 30 minutes before your appointment. Other times, you'll be asked to empty your bladder right before the procedure. 

If you're stressed about the procedure or the potential results of the ultrasound, you may want to engage in relaxation techniques beforehand. Mindfulness can help to calm your nerves and bring you a sense of peace before, during, and after the procedure. But overall, it is a simple and painless procedure and not one that you should worry about.

What to Expect During Transvaginal Ultrasound

You may have a transvaginal ultrasound at a diagnostics center where a technician performs the ultrasound, or your doctor may perform the test in their office. Either way, you will most likely be given a hospital gown to wear, as clothes from the waist down will have to be removed.

During the Procedure

When the doctor or technician is ready to begin, you will lie down on an examination table and place both feet in the stirrups. The ultrasound wand will be covered with a latex (or plastic) sheath and lubricating gel and then inserted into your vagina.

This should not be painful, but some people feel some pressure from the wand. The entire test will last from 30 to 60 minutes. 

Your Results

If your doctor performs your ultrasound, then you will probably get your results during or immediately following the examination. If a technician does the ultrasound, then the images must first be analyzed by a radiologist before the results are sent to your doctor for review.

Results typically take 24 hours to come in. Your doctor will then talk to you about your results and any recommended course of treatment or action, depending on what is found. In some cases, you may have to go back for another appointment to repeat the procedure if a clear picture wasn't obtained.

A Word From Verywell

Although it is slightly invasive, a transvaginal ultrasound is not painful and poses no risk to you or your baby. Additionally, this test can provide key diagnostic information early in pregnancy—as well as the first photos of your little one. If you have questions or concerns about the procedure, don't hesitate to ask your doctor.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kaur A, Kaur A. Transvaginal ultrasonography in first trimester of pregnancy and its comparison with transabdominal ultrasonography. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):329-38. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.84432

  2. Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Transvaginal ultrasound.

  3. John Hopkins Medical Center. Pelvic ultrasound.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Ultrasound test.

  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Transvaginal ultrasound.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.