What to Know Before an Endometrial Biopsy

An endometrial biopsy is a procedure where a small tissue sample is taken from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, to be studied under a microscope. The endometrial tissue is examined for abnormal cells or for hormonal effects on the endometrium.

Diagram of the female reproductive system
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The uterine lining is thin after menses, and as the ovaries prepare for ovulation, estrogen levels rise, which increasingly thickens the endometrium.

After ovulation occurs, the endometrium enters the luteal or secretory phase, which means that the lining has undergone a series of changes which will prepare it for a possible pregnancy.

If pregnancy does not occur, the thickened endometrium will be shed during menstruation.

What an Endometrial Biopsy Looks For

During the procedure, a small amount of endometrial tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.

While occasionally this is useful to evaluate whether ovulation has occurred, an endometrial biopsy is most often done to rule out endometrial hyperplasia or cancer.

Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs.

Your healthcare provider may suggest that you undergo an endometrial biopsy for many different reasons, such as:

  • If you have very heavy or abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • To look for abnormal tissues, such as fibroids or polyps
  • If there is bleeding after menopause
  • To check the effects of hormone therapy or to find abnormal cells or cancer
  • If there is an absence of uterine bleeding
  • To check for uterine infections, such as endometritis

Your biopsy results may show various states of the endometrial lining, the effects of hormones on the lining, or excessive tissue, which can indicate hypertrophy of the endometrial tissue.

How the Biopsy Is Performed

An endometrial biopsy may be done in your healthcare provider’s office, as it is a fairly simple procedure.

A speculum is inserted into the vagina so the cervix can be visualized. After the cervix is cleaned, a small instrument is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Samples of endometrial tissue are taken from various locations within the uterus and placed in a special solution for examination.

After the procedure, a small amount of bleeding is normal. However, notify your healthcare provider if bleeding becomes heavy (soaking through more than one pad an hour) or if you begin feeling faint or dizzy.

Also, make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you notice a rise in your temperature, as this could be a sign of infection. Avoid intercourse or douching for at least 72 hours.

Possible Risks

Though an endometrial biopsy is a fairly simple procedure, there are some possible complications that you should be aware of before your appointment, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Pelvic infection
  • Rare, but a possible puncture of the uterine wall with the biopsy device

Will It Hurt?

You can expect some mild cramping or discomfort during the procedure. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to take any medications the night prior or day of the procedure to help decrease cramping.

Let your healthcare provider know if you are:

  • Allergic to or sensitive to medicines, iodine, or latex
  • Pregnant or think you could be, as an endometrial biopsy during pregnancy may lead to miscarriage
  • Undergoing any other treatments or medication, as certain things may interfere with an endometrial biopsy, including vaginal or cervical infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical cancer
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Endometrial cancer.

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Endometrial biopsy.

  3. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for endometrial cancer.

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."