At some point during your fertility evaluation, your doctor may recommend a laparoscopy. The laparoscope is a slender telescope-like device with a lens at one end and a fiber-optic light source at the other end. The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision in your abdomen and then into your abdominal/pelvic cavity. This surgical procedure is performed when the doctor needs to take a direct look into your abdomen and see your reproductive organs. Depending on the circumstance, your doctor may be able to treat the medical condition during the same procedure. Sometimes laparoscopy is done in conjunction with a hysteroscopy procedure.

The laparoscopy procedure has many uses. By viewing your organs directly, your fertility specialist may be able to diagnose such conditions as endometriosis, scarring and adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and blocked fallopian tubes.

For the laparoscopy itself, you will likely be scheduled at an outpatient surgical center. In most cases, you will be given general anesthesia so that you will be asleep during the procedure. Once you are asleep, the doctor will make a small incision inside or near your navel. Then a slender tubing will be placed and nontoxic gas will be advanced into your abdomen. The gas swells your abdomen so your internal organs can be seen clearly. The laparoscope is then placed through the incision for viewing of your organs. In most cases, several other small incisions are made within your lower abdomen. These small incisions are used for additional surgical instruments (such as scissors, laser, or clamps) during the procedure. The laparoscopic images are projected onto a television-like monitor. This allows for easier viewing by the surgeon. Also, these images may be photographed so that you can see them later. At the conclusion of the laparoscopic procedure, the instruments are removed and the gas is released from your abdomen. The small incisions are closed with sutures. You wake up shortly thereafter in the recovery room. In most cases, you can go home in a few hours.

Risks associated with laparoscopy are few, but it's wise to remember that it is a surgical procedure. There is some chance of bleeding, general anesthesia reaction, or injury to your internal organs. The most common internal organs that might be injured during a laparoscopy would be your bowels or bladder. Such injuries are rare but may be serious and could involve additional surgical repair and hospitalization.

After your laparoscopy, you may experience a mild amount of nausea, scant vaginal bleeding, and abdominal discomfort. These are all fairly common and normal symptoms following a laparoscopy. However, be sure to call your doctor if you experience fever, extreme discomfort, or inability to urinate.

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