We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Dilation and Curettage?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 06, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Dilation and curettage (D & C) is a gynecological procedure that may be performed under a variety of circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, the D & C is not often used as an abortion technique, and doctors instead prefer early term vacuum methods. Yet this procedure is sometimes used to end a missed miscarriage or to finish an uncomfortable miscarriage in process, and may also be employed as a treatment for bleeding between periods, polyps removal, or to evaluate endometrial (uterine lining) tissue for problems. As the name suggests, the D & C involves two separate steps: dilation of the cervix to gain access to the uterus, and scraping or sometimes suctioning of the uterine lining.

There are some variations in how dilation and curettage may be performed. Some women undergo a D & C while under general anesthesia. Growing preference is to use local anesthesia instead, but there can be good reason why a general anesthetic is preferred, particularly if the D & C is not planned and must be performed on an emergency basis. Another variance is where a dilation and curettage might be performed; it could occur at a hospital, surgical center, or a suitably equipped doctor’s office.

The actual dilation and curettage procedure does not take long. It involves inserting a series of rods into the cervix opening to dilate it for access to the uterus. Once the opening is large enough, an instrument called a curette is inserted into the uterus via the cervix, and is used to scrape the lining of the uterus. Pieces of this lining are removed to either end a miscarriage or get samples, which can be tested at a lab for anomalies. A curette could also remove polyps present in the uterus, if needed.

Alternately, vacuum extraction of the tissue may be preferred to use of the curette, or the two instruments might both be employed. This may still be called a dilation and curettage. It may be more accurately titled a dilation and extraction (D & E).

Degree of discomfort women may feel with dilation and curettage usually depends on the anesthetic used. With general anesthesia, nothing is felt, but with local anesthetic there may be some pulling and tugging sensations or cramping. If these become too uncomfortable, women should inform their doctors. It’s often possible to have a higher dose of anesthetic before continuing.

Afterwards, women are usually given fairly specific instructions on aftercare. These include reporting any fever, severe pain, bad smelling discharge, or heavy bleeding, abstaining from intercourse for at least two weeks, not using tampons for that time period and following up with doctors at the six week point. Such follow-up is doubly vital if uterine lining is being tested for evidence of any forms of cancer. It’s important to follow all doctor’s instructions after this procedure, and also to not hesitate to contact doctors if unusual symptoms occur or questions exist that aren’t covered by instructions.

The typical complications of the D & C are excessive bleeding and infection. In fact, since the cervix remains somewhat open for a few weeks after the procedure, women remain vulnerable to infection: hence the warning on avoiding insertion of things into the vagina or having intercourse. There is an additional risk that some women should consider.

If the dilation and curettage is for a missed miscarriage or abortion, there will be a quick decline in pregnancy hormones, placing women at risk for postpartum depression. Having strong support may minimize this risk slightly, but women should also pay attention to strong feelings of sadness, hopelessness, isolation, or suicidality. Should these feelings be noted, they should be brought to the attention of a doctor right away for treatment

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.