What is a Follicular Tracking ultrasound scan?
A Follicular tracking ultrasound scan looks at the ovaries and uterus internally using a sterile (clean) transducer paying particular attention to the follicles within the ovaries. A follicle is a fluid area in which the eggs grow. The follicle increases in size as the egg grows. Follicular tracking involves scanning the ovaries regularly during your menstrual cycle and observing the follicles as they increase in size.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, which pass through the skin and are reflected by the internal organs to create a picture on a screen with the help of a computer. These pictures are then interpreted by Gynaecologist/radiologist
The ovarian follicle is a fluid-filled sac found in the ovaries of women. Each follicle contains an immature ovum or egg called an oocyte. Many follicles begin to develop at the beginning of a woman’s menstrual cycle. But when the woman reaches the middle of her menstrual cycle, only one follicle has matured, and it is known as the dominant follicle.
This principal follicle releases the egg during ovulation. Follicular study or follicular monitoring is when the doctor monitors the development of the follicle from the beginning of the menstrual cycle until it is ready to release the egg. This monitoring is done through ultrasound scans.
The scan to monitor follicle growth also looks at the consistency and thickness of the uterine lining.
When is follicular tracking needed?
Follicular tracking may be advised in any of the following cases:
- If your age is less than 35 years and you have been trying to conceive for the last one year but without success. This is usually the first step in diagnosing ovulation problems.
- If you are over 35 years old and you have been trying to conceive for the past six months but have not been successful.
- If you have Polycystic Ovarian Disease/Syndrome (PCOS/PCOD), your menstrual cycle and ovulation may be irregular. In this, you may also have an anovulatory cycle or a menstrual cycle in which ovulation does not occur.
- If you have been given fertility drugs to ovulate or if you have used procedures such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to create more follicles.
Can Follicular Monitoring Help You Conceive?
Follicular monitoring can tell you the exact time when you will ovulate in your cycle. With this, you can make sure to have sex with your husband at the time when you are most fertile.
It can also detect some specific problems related to ovulation, which may be preventing you from conceiving.
However, it cannot ensure that sperm fertilize the egg or that the fertilized egg implants on your uterine wall.
If you are not getting pregnant even after ovulation, then follicular monitoring may not detect the problems behind it.
Keep in mind that it is beneficial to use an ovulation predictor kit and follicular scanning when the natural cycle is monitored. This increases your chances of detecting ovulation.
In addition to follicular monitoring, your doctor may also monitor your estradiol (a type of estrogen) level to determine the strength and ability of the follicle to survive.
How do I prepare for this examination?
As soon as your period starts/or the first working day afterward call clinic nirvana to make your initial ultrasound appointment. If you have a prescription for clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole given to you take the tablets as instructed by your doctor. Timing of any further visits will be advised after each scan but are typically every other day until you have ovulated.
For hygiene reasons please have a bath or shower before you come in for your scan. You will also be asked to empty your bladder before going for your scan.
What happens during the scan?
You will be taken into a slightly darkened examination room. You will be asked to undress from the waist down and you will be covered with a sheet. You will be asked to lie on your back on a special bed with your knees bent. Most women find the examination less uncomfortable than having a smear performed.
Once you are in a comfortable position, a sterile lubricated covered electronic device called a transducer will be gently inserted into your vagina. The transducer is a little bigger than the size of a finger or tampon. Only the tip of the transducer (about 2- 3inches) is put in the vagina to look at the uterus and ovaries.
How long does it take?
Depending on how relaxed you are, the examination generally takes about 15 minutes.
Is it safe?
Ultrasound has been around for the last 30 years and there are no known side effects. It does not involve the use of x-rays and it is a simple, painless procedure. This scan does not have any effect on fertility.
How will I learn the results?
The results will be explained by the doctor.
Can I drive home?
Yes, there are no known side-effects from this procedure.