Is a cystoscopy procedure painful?

Understanding Cystoscopy Procedure

Cystoscopy is a simple medical procedure that examines the urethra, bladder, and ureter outlet using a cystoscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light at the end. The doctor inserts the cystoscope into the urethra and slowly advances it to the bladder to look for any abnormalities or issues.

A cystoscopy is a common procedure used to diagnose recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, kidney stones, and other urological conditions.

Is a Cystoscopy Procedure Painful?

One of the most common questions people ask about cystoscopy is whether it is painful or not. The answer is not simple, but in general, cystoscopy is considered to be a mildly uncomfortable procedure.

The Discomfort Level of a Cystoscopy Procedure

Most patients describe the discomfort they feel during a cystoscopy as a mild burning sensation, akin to the feeling of having a UTI. Others report feeling a slight pressure or intense urge to urinate; however, this is only temporary.

The amount of discomfort felt during a cystoscopy procedure varies depending on factors such as personal sensitivity to pain, the patient’s general health and the purpose of the procedure. Those who have experienced actual pain during cystoscopy usually experience it not because of the procedure itself but because of the underlying condition being diagnosed or treated.

Is Anything Done to Reduce Pain?

Doctors usually take steps to reduce discomfort during cystoscopy procedures. They may use a local anesthetic to numb the urethra to prevent pain and reduce the risk of infection. They may also use a lubricant to make the insertion of the cystoscope easier.

Patients who are anxious or worried about cystoscopy can also ask their doctors for sedatives or anti-anxiety medication to help relax them before the procedure. In some patients, general anesthesia may be used, especially during outpatient surgical procedures that require the insertion of devices or surgical tools through the cystoscope.

How to Prepare for Cystoscopy

Before the Procedure

Before the procedure, your doctor may request that you undergo a urine test to rule out any existing infections or conditions. Additionally, you may need to follow some instructions such as drinking a large amount of water to ensure the bladder is full when the procedure is done.

It is also important to inform your doctor if you are allergic to anesthesia, iodine, or other medications because these can affect the cystoscopy procedure and put you at risk of complications.

During the Procedure

Before performing the procedure, the doctor will insert a lubricated cystoscope through the urethra and slowly advance it until it reaches the bladder. You might feel a slight burning sensation or pressure when the device is inserted, but this is only temporary.

Once the cystoscope is in the bladder, the doctor may use a small saline solution or water to expand the bladder and get a better view. At the same time, a camera attached to the cystoscope transmits images of the bladder to a monitor, where the doctor can examine the bladder walls and walls of the ureter outlet.

What Are the Risks of a Cystoscopy Procedure?

Just like any medical procedure or treatment, cystoscopy comes with its own set of risks and potential complications. Some of the most common risks of a cystoscopy procedure include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty urinating or retention of urine
  • Urinary tract injury
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hypersensitivity reactions in patients who are allergic to anesthesia or other medications

However, experiencing these complications is quite rare, so patients can rest assured that cystoscopy is generally a safe procedure.

Cystoscopy Procedure Recovery

After the procedure, patients may experience mild pain, blood in the urine or a slight burning sensation when urinating, but these symptoms are usually temporary and will disappear within a day or two. Patients are advised to avoid sexual intercourse or strenuous activities for a week or two after the procedure to allow the body to heal completely without complications.

Tips for Easy Recovery

  • Drink plenty of water or fluids to dilute the urine and avoid an infection in the bladder.
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights or engaging in strenuous activities, which may put pressure on the bladder.
  • Rest and take pain medication to deal with any post-op pain after the procedure.


Cystoscopy is a crucial medical procedure used to diagnose and treat various urological disorders. While it may cause some discomfort, it is generally considered to be a safe and mildly uncomfortable procedure.

To ensure a speedy recovery and minimize risks, patients should follow the directions given by their doctors and report any unusual symptoms or complications.


Here are some frequently asked questions about cystoscopy procedure:

  • Q. How long does it take to complete a cystoscopy procedure?
    • A. The procedure usually lasts between 15-30 minutes.
  • Q. Can both men and women undergo cystoscopy?
    • A. Yes, both men and women can undergo cystoscopy.
  • Q. Is a cystoscopy procedure painful?
    • A. It may cause some mild discomfort, but it is not generally painful.
  • Q. How long does it take to recover from a cystoscopy procedure?
    • A. Recovery usually takes just a few days. Some patients may experience mild pain or discomfort, which subsides after a day or two.
  • Q. Can I drive home after the procedure?
    • A. It is generally recommended to have someone else drive you home after the procedure, especially if you were given an anesthetic.


  • Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Cystoscopy. Retrieved from
  • Mayo Clinic. (2020). Cystoscopy. Retrieved from
  • Urology Care Foundation. (2021). Cystoscopy Procedure. Retrieved from