Problem With Transvaginal Ultrasound

Published: August 06, 2012
Dear Problem With Transvaginal Ultrasound,

I'm twenty-one. Last week I had a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm whether or not I had PCOS or endometriosis. I had not used a tampon in eight years, and had only ever been able to fit the slim fits in. In the sonography room I was really nervous because I had never allowed anyone to touch me before and saw how big the wand was. I agreed to go through with it only because there was no way that I would have had a laparoscopy or an MRI with coils, and I needed answers for my horrible periods. I inserted the wand, which was uncomfortable but not painful. Then I had to let the sonographer take over so that we could get the right kind of picture. She started to slide it even farther into my vagina, and I suddenly cried out. It was unspeakably painful. I felt like I was being raped. (In case if you're worried about this statement, no I haven't been.) I told her to stop twice and was about to cry, but she didn't. A moment later she casually said that it shouldn't be that painful, and when the ultrasound was finished she said that she was sorry if she had hurt me as if it had been an accident or unavoidable. Once she left me alone to clean myself up I sobbed hysterically. I felt so violated. Initially I hated myself for not fighting more, but then realized that I was just too hurtfully shocked at the time to react the right way. Although it would have been the only way for me to have gotten my answers, continuing the procedure should have been left up to me. The sonographer has performed an illegal act which she should pay for and a part of me wants to press charges, but I don't want to tell a ton of strangers such intimate details. Between this woman and the gynecologist whom she works for, I have tried to talk about this three times, but no one bothers to call me back. I even sent the doctor an e-mail saying that I had a complaint about a staff member who hurt me, but she didn't seem to care. Since that wand was obviously way too large for me, I had feared that I was damaged on the inside, although I saw no blood. I'm not sure how much the lubricant and latex covering protect you from the wand. I'm aware of vaginal elasticity, but don't know if that matters in a case like mine. I'm terrified that I'm bruised or enlarged on the inside. It was important to me that I had a pristine body and my smaller than average vagina had not been altered at all.

Dear Problem With Transvaginal Ultrasound,

TeenHealthFX is very sorry that you had to deal with this troubling incident. While we appreciate that this was an emotionally difficult and temporarily painful experience for you, we do want to reassure you that it is unlikely you had any physical damage. We also want to let you know that the vagina is very muscular and when women are tense or anxious, the muscles often tense up. That is probably what happened to you – that the pain was a result of the muscles being tensed up rather than because of physical damage to the area.

As far as the technologist’s approach, she was definitely wrong not to stop the procedure when you asked her to. FX would recommend that you schedule an appointment with your doctor so you can discuss your concerns in person. If you do not feel your doctor takes your complaint seriously, consider writing to the state medical board to file a complaint. Regardless of how things turn out with this doctor, it would probably be a good idea to find a new MD so you do not find yourself in this kind of situation again.


If you need a new doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.