May 25, 2019

Women's health in Japan: biopsies and ultrasounds

Due to an inherited cancer syndrome called Lynch Syndrome, I have to undergo routine screening and testing every couple of years to ensure I'm healthy and well. Lynch Syndrome is essentially a genetic predisposition to certain cancers, including ovarian and uterine cancers - which means ultrasounds and biopsies for preventative testing.

Women's health in Japan: biopsies and ultrasounds photo

My experiences here in Japan with both procedures have differed to what I was used to back home. The most unusual to me is the sheet that gets placed between you and the OB/GYN or nursing staff. It's literally like a curtain divider, so you're not "face to face" (so to speak) with the staff performing an examination or procedure on your nether regions. I actually feel much more comfortable when I can see what's going on, so this step - presumably for modesty or to save embarrassment for some patients - makes me feel much more uncomfortable.

With the uterine biopsy, previously I'd had those done whilst under sedation for other procedures, so I don't remember them at all. My previous American provider recommended this, since she said that it can be quite painful and uncomfortable for some people. This time, I was wide awake, zero sedation, zero painkillers. It was as run of the mill as an ultrasound. In my opinion it was definitely uncomfortable but not unbearable, but some cramping afterwards seemed par for the course. 

Another difference is finding out the results. Most providers back home in Australia simply give you a call to let you know that all is good, or schedule an appointment to talk to you in person if there are any issues. In this case, my OB/GYN let me know that appointments are routine for results even if everything is normal, and scheduled me in for a results appointment in three weeks time. 

Cost wise, for my most recent appointment which included a uterine biopsy, ultrasound, and general check up, I paid 8500 yen under national health insurance here (about $78 US dollars/$110 Australian Dollars). Depending where you're from these costs may seem reasonable or unreasonable - I was pretty happy with it overall, especially for something that could potentially prevent other issues down the line. 

One other note to add - I wrote about my initial experiences with being prescribed a script for the pill here in Japan, and that my provider only issued the pill in three month increments. This has been extended now to six months worth, so it seems like it's just an introductory thing to ensure you're okay with the pill they've prescribed.



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


  • edthethe

    on Jun 2

    That curtain makes me so nervous! I ask them to open it so my heart rate can go down.

  • genkidesu

    13 hours ago

    @edthethe I should have asked! It totally creeped me out infinitely more than actually seeing the doctor's face! Miss you on here! Hope you and the fam are well!!