What is an HSG?
An HSG (hystosalpingogram) is often one of the first tests conducted for a female that may be experiencing a difficult time becoming pregnant. The HSG test is an X-ray that looks in the uterus and fallopian tubes and the areas around them.
Who needs to get an HSG?
An HSG test is regularly offered to any woman going through or seeking fertility treatment. An HSG test can determine a lot of fertility issues including overall uterine health.
The HSG Procedure
The HSG procedure is usually performed at the office of your reproductive endocrinologist. If your RE doesn’t have the proper equipment they may send you to the radiology department at a nearby hospital. The HSG is typically performed at least a week after your period, but before time of ovulation.
The procedure itself is relatively quick – it only takes about five to ten minutes to actually perform. Be sure to ask your doctor if they would like you to take any medications prior to the HSG procedure. It isn’t uncommon for your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic or muscle relaxant.
The HSG procedure is performed as follows:
You will lie on an examination similar to a routine pelvic exam with the speculum placed in your vagina. Some physicians will use a “block” or medication that will numb your cervix and help you to relax so that the catheter can easily be inserted through the cervix into your uterus. The doctor will slowly inject dye into the catheter so that it fills the uterine cavity. X-rays are taken as the dye streams into the fallopian tubes and flows into the abdominal cavity.
Once sufficient images are attained, the doctor or radiologist will remove the speculum and you will be asked to rest of the examination table for 20-30 minutes. It isn’t uncommon to experience abdominal cramping or even slight spotting after the procedure.
The physician may speak with you at that time about your results or they may send the information back to the referring physician.
The HSG Results
Your health care provider will sit down with you to explain the results of your HSG test. Normal results will show no blockages in your fallopian tubes and and a uterus that is of natural size and shape. Abnormal results could show one or more blockages in your fallopian tubes, uterine adhesions, or an unusual uterine shape.
What can an HSG identify?
- Damages or blockages in the fallopian tubes
- Shape of uterus
- Uterine fibroids and/or polyps
- Adhesions / scar tissue
Complications of an HSG
As with any medical or fertility procedure, there can be some complications that arise from the HSG test. These complications are fairly rare but are still risks however.
- fainting or nausea
- uterine infection
- allergy from the iodine dye
What happens after the HSG is over?
Once the HSG is over and your results come back, the doctor can determine your next steps. If your results come back normal, this means that there were no issues detected with your fallopian tubes or uterus. If you are still experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, further testing may be needed to help diagnose your fertility problems.