Common Ultrasound Exams for Women’s Health

Technician uses handheld ultrasound device
Most women are familiar with ultrasounds for supplemental breast cancer screenings and pregnancy imaging, but what are the other occasions when a physician might order an ultrasound exam for women? Learn more about the life-saving capabilities these ultrasound exams provide.

How Ultrasounds Work

Ultrasounds use a combination of sound waves and computer technology to create internal images that doctors and patients seek. Ultrasounds are often used as a preliminary method of imaging. This means that when doctors suspect a problem and think that it is an area that the ultrasound will be able to view, they will use this method first because ultrasounds aren’t invasive or have side effects. Ultrasounds examine the internal organs, tissues and blood flow throughout the body, determining the blood flow through the heart, imaging breast tissue and guiding biopsy needles.

Almost any part of the body can undergo an ultrasound exam which makes it a faithful go-to for doctors.

These Are the Ultrasound Exams Many Women Receive

BREAST CARE: Ultrasound of the breast may be used for women who are at high risk for breast cancer or women who are pregnant and should not be exposed to x-rays used in a mammogram. Ultrasound of the breast can also be used to screen women who have dense breast tissue, meaning there are a lot of ducts, glands, fibrous tissue and less fat making it harder to find cancers with a mammogram.

HEART HEALTH: A major benefit that ultrasounds can provide for women is helping women determine their possibility of heart attack or stroke. Both of these conditions occur when the blood flow to the brain or heart is blocked. By using ultrasound technology, doctors can hear problems like weak valves, blockages, and murmurs. Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world and the highest killer of women around the world. The best way to combat this statistic, besides better health, diet, and exercise, is to have regularly scheduled check-ups with your primary care physician. As you get older, your doctor will likely recommend several kinds of tests to determine your cardiac health, so don’t forget to sign up for a cardiac ultrasound. The ability to see movement via ultrasound is particularly beneficial for those women concerned with their cardiac health as the movement of blood will be the biggest indicator of that problem.

PELVIC: In women, a pelvic ultrasound is most often performed to evaluate these parts of the body:

  • uterus
  • cervix
  • ovaries
  • bladder

Ultrasound examinations can help diagnose symptoms experienced by women such as:

  • pelvic pain
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • other menstrual problems

Ultrasound exams also help identify:

  • palpable masses such as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids
  • ovarian or uterine cancers

PREGNANCY: Ultrasounds are the best form of medical imaging for expectant mothers because ultrasounds are non-invasive and do not have the concern of radiation. Mothers can see their baby’s outline, hear their heartbeat and determine their child’s health.

TRANSVAGINAL: These exams go across or through the vagina (the genital canal in the female, extending from the uterus to the vulva).
A transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed to view the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and the ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound also evaluates the myometrium (muscular walls of the uterus). Sonohysterography allows for a more in-depth investigation of the uterine cavity. These exams are typically performed to detect:

  • uterine anomalies
  • uterine scars
  • endometrial polyps
  • fibroids
  • cancer, especially in patients with abnormal uterine bleeding

Learn More About Ultrasound Exams

What Imaging Procedures are Best for Women over 50?

According to the CDC, The leading cause of death for women between the ages of 45-64 is cancer, with heart disease following close behind. In order to decrease these numbers, knowledge and preventative measures need to be taken to keep women healthier. In order to remain in the best health, women need to be aware of the happenings within their body. Regular imaging procedures of areas like the chest, reproductive organs and internal organs can help determine the presence of tumors or cancerous cells as well as any cardiac concerns. Women may be outliving men, but statistics like that are always subject to change, especially if women do not take the proper precautions to keep themselves healthy.

Ordering a CT scan of the chest and pelvis regions can be beneficial for determining the prevalence of any health risks that commonly affect women. CT scans are the preferable method in examining the chest for tumors and cardiovascular deficiencies. If there is a prevalence of lung disease in one’s family or if you have lived a lifestyle that promotes the symptoms of lung cancer, a CT scan can be extremely effective in determining if you are at risk. For some smokers, a low-dose CT scan, (lung cancer screen) which is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), can be done at our facilities for only $99 – an extremely low price to pay for peace of mind.

Ultrasounds are a procedure your doctor may employ to examine the reproductive organs for the presence of malformation or cancerous cells. Ultrasounds can also be performed on the cardiac structures and the vascular systems in order to ascertain if there is risk for heart attack or stroke.

MRI procedures are not routine but may be recommended for women with different types of health problems. Because MRI does not use radiation, it can often be a substitute for procedures that used to be done on CT machines. MRIs can offer more detailed images of the spine and provide better images of the structures in the body that other procedures cannot. The larger tissue systems of the body can also be examined thoroughly with an MRI. With an MRI procedure, blockages in the heart and vascular systems can be determined as well as the presence and location of tumors. Because MRIs do not utilize radiation, they can also help examine the condition of reproductive organs.

A women’s life should be long and lovely – don’t let a preventable disease cut it short. Discuss your health with your doctor and then make an appointment to get your recommended imaging procedures performed this month, so you can know sooner rather than later.

If you’re in South Louisiana, you can always conveniently schedule medical imaging procedures through our web-form, or by calling 504-883-8111.