Why Is the Endometrial Biopsy so Painful and Should You Be Given an Anesthetic?

The pain of an endometrial biopsy is caused by cramping of the uterus as the doctor inserts the device used to obtain the tissue sample through the cervix and scrapes cells from the uterine wall. Cramps often continue throughout the procedure and for some time afterward, says WebMD.

Typically, an endometrial biopsy takes 5 to 15 minutes and is performed by a health care practitioner in an office setting. Some doctors use a local anesthetic applied directly to the cervix to decrease the pain, or advise the patient to take a pain killer, such as ibuprofen, shortly before her appointment, says WebMD.

If the doctor needs to directly visualize the uterine lining or remove fibroids during a biopsy, she may choose to do the procedure using a device called a hysteroscope. Known as hysteroscopy, this procedure typically is performed in the operating room, where the doctor sometimes gives the patient sedation. Sedation does not prevent cramping, but helps the patient relax and sometimes lessens the pain. If the doctor uses general anesthesia, the patient remains asleep and usually feels nothing during the biopsy, according the WebMD.

Endometrial biopsy is a medical term for the procedure doctors use to take a sample of tissue from the uterine lining, or endometrium. Doctors perform the test to look for cancer of the uterus and to diagnose menstrual cycle irregularities, such as heavy bleeding and some forms of infertility, says WebMD.