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Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2014;77(1):29-34. doi: 10.1159/000355923. Epub 2013 Nov 7.

Do women with pain and bleeding in early pregnancy require a vaginal speculum examination as part of their assessment?

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Lister Fertility Clinic, Lister Hospital, London, UK.



To investigate whether a vaginal speculum examination (VSE) prior to a transvaginal scan (TVS) alters the diagnosis or management of women who complain of bleeding in early pregnancy.


A prospective study. Women were asked to describe their bleeding as heavy, moderate or light and to consent to VSE prior to TVS. TVS was performed to obtain a final diagnosis of pregnancy outcome.


221 consecutive women were included in the study. In 14.5% (n = 32) complaining of heavy bleeding, blood was seen in all but two VSE and 84% (n = 27) had a miscarriage diagnosed by TVS. Products of conception were removed in 18.8% (n = 6), but this did not alter the subsequent immediate management of any cases. 65.2% (n = 144) of women complained of light bleeding, blood was seen on VSE in 53% (n = 77). Of these women, 25% (n = 19) of those where blood was seen had a miscarriage, compared to 6% (n = 4) of women where blood was not seen. A cervical ectropion was visualised in 11.7% (n = 26) and 2.3% (n = 5) had a cervical polyp. No other clinically significant pathology was detected.


The amount of bleeding reported by women in early pregnancy relates well with VSE findings. Performing a VSE did not alter the subsequent management of these patients. This study demonstrates that routine objective assessment of blood by a clinician performing VSE prior to a TVS is unnecessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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