Here’s everything you need to know about how ultrasounds work

Most of us think of pregnancy when we think about ultrasounds. But there are actually several reasons why people who get their periods should go in for regular ultrasounds. This noninvasive imaging tool can be used to diagnose a variety of health issues, including misplaced IUDs, polyps, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.

In this episode of ITK: Hack the Cycle, Nadya Okamoto (@nadyaokamoto), host and co-founder of lifestyle period brand August, chats with obstetric sonographer Natalie Scharon (@eternallove3d) — and has her own ultrasound done — to learn more about the imaging procedure.

For a usual ultrasound appointment with Natalie, a patient is asked to come in with a full bladder because liquid appears as black on the ultrasound screen and allows Natalie to see the uterus. During the procedure, Natalie looks at the uterus, endometrium and ovaries to make sure everything looks good. She then sends all the images out to a radiologist and ensures that both the patient and their OBGYN receive the final report.

Natalie explains that an ultrasound shows structures inside your body using high-intensity sound waves. She says it is a risk-free procedure and even recommends that people who get their periods have one done at least once a year.

An ultrasound can be beneficial to anyone experiencing heavy menstruation cramps, bleeding or pain during sex or before or after IUD placement and general health concerns. An IUD is a mechanical contraceptive device for semipermanent insertion into the uterus. Natalie recommends using ultrasound to be sure that an IUD is placed properly because a misplaced one can cause discomfort and pain and might not be effective in preventing pregnancy.

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