a scope with a light inside of a bladder

Community Feedback: The Cystoscopy Experience

A cystoscopy is a procedure that looks at the urinary system to diagnose and treat conditions of the bladder, urethra, and prostate. It takes a look inside the urethra and bladder using a cystoscope, which is a small, thin tube with a light and a magnifying camera on the end. The design of the cystoscope is what helps your healthcare provider see what’s going on inside your body without having to perform a more invasive procedure. There are often many fears and anxieties associated with receiving a cystoscopy, especially if an individual has never had one before.

First-hand cystoscopy experiences

We recently published an article in which one of our contributors, Jennifer Toth, wrote about her experience of getting a cystoscopy. Her article led to a large response from the community that included many stories from our members on this topic, sharing their first-hand experiences and how they were similar or different from Jennifer’s. Read on to see some of the great responses we received!

Scope was quicker than expected

One common theme present in many comments was how surprisingly quick the whole procedure lasted. While everyone’s timeline can vary for different reasons, some of our members reported that the whole experience took just a few short minutes.

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“I was amazed once I had it done how simple and quick it was.”
“Once inserted it's a pretty quick and easy procedure.”
“My last Cystoscope I never felt a thing, just stay relaxed it's over in less than 5 minutes.”
“It was over rather quickly.”

Nearly painless cystoscopy

As said before, while everyone’s experience may be different, many of our members described their cystoscopies as quick and relatively pain-free. However, some did describe a sense of discomfort.

“Just had a cystoscope done recently. Only a few seconds of discomfort and then no pain at all. Feeling blessed the results were good.”
“The procedure was not painful.”
“It was a bit uncomfortable, but it was painless.”
“I have had several cystoscopes done and they never hurt.”
“Uncomfortable but not painful!”
“Maybe I was one of the lucky ones, but I didn't have any pain, just a little discomfort.”
“It is an uncomfortable test, not unbearable, just uncomfortable.”
“I’ve had three bladder surgeries and several cystoscopes, none of them hurt, just uncomfortable.”
“I just had my fourth one with my new urologist. My first one was rather rough, but the fourth one didn't hurt at all. It was pain-free because my new doctor took steps to assure it would be.”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds. I was very nervous but there is no need to be.”

But sometimes the scope is painful

Of course, as this last comment implies, some individuals do experience pain during or after the procedure. If you are experiencing pain, or are worried you will consider talking with your healthcare team about any options that may be available to reduce your discomfort.

“Had it done TWICE! NOT a fan!”
“Hurt so bad for days afterward.”
“Extremely painful.”

Managing to make tolerable

Regarding making the process more comfortable, many felt that pain control efforts, such as drugs or numbing treatment, were helpful in getting through their cystoscopy. Some providers may recommend the need to be completely put to sleep, while others may recommend local anesthetic to numb the area. Some may recommend completely different discomfort-relieving options, such as pain medications.

“There are pain medications, nobody should go through this procedure without pain control.”
“Ask for pain relievers for the first 3 days after.”
“I had several. All with anesthesia. I don't think I could have it done without.”
“Valium helps!!”
“It’s not so bad under sedation”.
“I just get some lidocaine and I'm good to go. I did have some burning afterward.”
“You can ask for a local anesthetic to numb the area if your doctor doesn't think you need to be completely put to sleep.”
“I have had it a few times. With lidocaine numbing the area, watched the whole procedure on the screen. No pain at all.”
“My husband has had several with anesthesia.”

Sharing your story

Most people experience anxiety or fear when faced with the prospect of a medical procedure, including cystoscopies, and this is completely okay. As shown in these comments alone, everyone’s experience and how they deal with it can be very different, which is also normal. If you are concerned about your cystoscopy and any accompanying discomfort, fear, or pain, talk with your provider to find out more details or helpful coping options. Whether you’re preparing for your first cystoscopy, remembering a past procedure, or are gearing up for yet another meeting with the cystoscope, let us know how you view the experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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