The Procedure

This scan is considered the examination of choice to start with in the diagnostic workup of urinary or stress incontinence. In addition a full assessment of the uterus, ovaries and the parts of the pelvis which are nearby are also examined.

A filled bladder is optimal for this type of scanning, which you will be informed about at the time of booking. Your doctor will usually request a pelvic floor scan if you are suffering from urinary incontinence. This can be as a result of having children or can be as a result of a weakness in the wall of the urethra.

What happens on the day?

The timing of the scan is not critical. If you still get a period then we like to scan you within the first half of your cycle if possible.

When you arrive for your scan you will be asked to fill out a form about your gynaecological history to date.

The sonographer will then take you through to the scanning room.

You will be asked to lie on the table and expose your tummy. A towel will be tucked into your pants to limit spread of the gel onto your clothes.

photo of a woman with pelvic floor painClear gel is applied to your tummy and the sonographer moves the probe over your tummy recording images. The sonographer may place their hands on your tummy to gently move the pelvic organs into better imaging positions.

The bladder and the kidneys will be examined briefly for changes such as obstruction which may be due to diseases in the pelvis.

After we have scanned across your tummy, a vaginal scan is then performed (with your consent). You will be sent to the toilet to completely empty your bladder and be given a gown. You will be asked to lie on the bed and a special probe is positioned in your vagina. The probe is moved with varying pressure at different angles to obtain images of the uterus and ovaries.

A vaginal scan is generally required to assess sites of pelvic pain. It gives us a much better picture of your uterus and ovaries. You will be able to see for yourself on our plasma screen monitors.

After you have had a vaginal scan, another probe is then used with a sterile cover to assess your urinary muscles. This probe rests on the outside of your vagina. You will be asked to do some breathing exercises and strain so that we can monitor how your urinary muscles are contracting. You may be asked to do this several times and we will monitor what is happening in real time.

The sonographer will leave the room after the scan to review the images and to discuss them with the Radiologist. Sometimes for clarification more images are required.


Both methods of scanning whether across the tummy or through the vagina require some probe pressure and may be uncomfortable. It is rarely painful.

Occasionally there will be bleeding after a vaginal scan which should stop in 24 hours. If it does not stop, please see your local doctor.

Pelvic scanning has some limitations and so we may not be able to see everything we want to see. These limitations are commonly related to displacing the overlying bowel.


A pelvic floor scan can give us a lot of information about what might be causing your urinary incontinence.

It can help determine why you might be experiencing such things as pelvic pain and pelvic bleeding.

If there is anything of significant clinical concern discovered from your scan, we will talk to you about it on the day. This is very reassuring for you.

What is an Ultrasound scan?

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. Sound waves are used instead of radiation which makes them safe.

Why have a Pelvic Floor Scan at Women’s Imaging?

This type of scan is very specialised and our sonographers are trained to the highest standards to perform these specialist pelvic floor scans. In addition, all of our scans are checked by our in-house radiologist before you leave our practice. If there is any clinical concern about your scan we will come and discuss this with you.

How long will it take?

A pelvic floor scan which includes a normal pelvic scan takes approximately 45 minutes.

How should I prepare for the scan?

You should arrive for your scan with a filled bladder. We recommend that you drink 2 glasses of water a half hour before your scan time. Remember to bring your referral form with you. We will scan you across your tummy to start with and then we will send you to the toilet to empty your bladder completely for the vaginal scan.

Can I bring a friend along with me for my scan?

We are happy for you to bring a friend along with you. However due to the nature of the vaginal scan you may want privacy at that time.

We ask that women who have young children make arrangements to have them taken care of whilst you have your scan. Our sonographers need to concentrate on what they are doing and a crying child can be very distracting for them. We thank you for your understanding.

When will I get my results of my scan?

The full report of the scan will be with your doctor within 48 hours. If there is anything of major clinical concern that we uncover from your scan, we will come and speak to you on the day. There are lots of normal benign things that we see all the time. We do not ordinarily discuss these normal findings with patients.

Tips + helpful information

  • This scan can help determine the cause of urinary incontinence.
  • A pelvic scan will be carried out before we do the pelvic floor scan.
  • A special probe rests on the outside of your vagina and live scanning helps us determine what might be causing incontinence.