What is a dilation and curettage and why is it done?

A dilation and curettage, also known as a “D&C,” is a surgical procedure done to sample or empty the uterine cavity.

Many women have heard of a D&C but don’t know that this procedure can be done for multiple reasons. This minor surgery can be done in a doctor’s office with pain medications or in the operating room with anesthesia to make the procedure more comfortable. This procedure usually takes only a couple of minutes and can be done for the following reasons:

  • To treat a miscarriage
  • To get a sample of the lining of the uterus to understand why a woman is bleeding (for example, to evaluate abnormal periods or postmenopausal bleeding)
  • As a treatment to thin the lining of the uterus, often in women who have abnormal periods
  • To treat a molar pregnancy
  • As a method of abortion
  • To remove a retained placenta or treat a postpartum hemorrhage

Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, December 2018

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