How Does an Ultrasound Work?

As a medical imaging technique, an ultrasound can safely visualize the developing pregnancy in the uterus. If you’re unexpectedly pregnant, this can be a safe, informative next step to take as you make a plan.

A sonographer uses a transducer on the abdomen to emit sound pulses. These pulses echo off tissues and create images. Ultrasounds can confirm the pregnancy and assess its status by examining gestational age, location, and fetal development based on these images.

Are Ultrasounds Safe?

Ultrasounds are seen as generally safe. Unlike X-rays, which use radiation, ultrasounds use non-ionizing sound waves instead. This allows ultrasounds to be used during pregnancy without radiation harming the woman or fetus. 

Their approach gives important insights without endangering patients when performed correctly.

Do I Need an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound can determine if the pregnancy is viable or located outside the uterus (ectopic), which the ACOG estimates affects up to 26% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage. Another benefit is determining gestational age, as this impacts available options. For instance, the abortion pill is only approved up to 10 weeks by the FDA.

What Can I Expect if I Get an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound can be performed using two different methods. During a transabdominal exam, the sonographer may ask you to have a full bladder beforehand for improved imaging quality. 

They will then apply gel and slowly glide the transducer over your belly, allowing sound waves to bounce off tissues and form detailed images on the monitor.

Early in the first trimester, a transvaginal approach often provides clearer views of the developing fetus. Like a pap smear, you will undress from the waist down, and the sonographer will cover the transducer in a sheath before applying lubricant. 

Next, they gently insert the transducer into the vagina to transmit sound waves and produce internal images. The sonographer uses the transducer throughout the procedure to assess fetal anatomy in real time. This prenatal screening maps out crucial pregnancy details.

Where Can I Get an Ultrasound?

Fayette Pregnancy Resource Center offers practical, compassionate support for your pregnancy journey, including no-cost pregnancy testing and limited obstetric ultrasounds. 

No one should have to walk this journey alone. Contact us to schedule an appointment!