What is HSG Test and How is it Done?

January 23, 2020

If you have been trying to get pregnant for quite some time and have found no success yet then a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is one of the most important preliminary tests you may be required to take. No matter how unpronounceable the word maybe, an HSG test is an accurate way of finding out what stands in your way to getting pregnant. It is a simple out-patient procedure that may take no longer than half an hour. It is a very effective way of assessing your fallopian tubes and works well together with other tests like FSH and LH  and USG to pin down the problem.

While you may have a million questions along your way to fertility, here are a few important things you need to know about the HSG test.

What is a hysterosalpingogram?

It is a transvaginal procedure that helps your IVF specialist to identify and locate the problem. Before stepping into IUI procedure , an HSG gives a complete picture of your tubal status by examining your fallopian tubes and uterus. It can help in identifying the presence of any uterine fibroids/SOL , blockages in the fallopian tubes and other concerning health issues that may be preventing a natural pregnancy. Tubal blockages that prevent the egg from meeting the sperm are most commonly observed.

When is an HSG advised?

An HSG is usually one of the first tests your IVF expert would suggest before you begin any fertility treatment. It is generally done after you have had your period, between the 7th and the 9th day of your cycle. This is done to avoid doing the procedure during an unknown pregnancy. Since the procedure does not involve any surgical intervention or anesthesia, you will not be required to do any fasting.

How is it done?

The technician or nurse will first clean and drape you to avoid infections. During an HSG exam, a water-based iodine dye is filled into the uterus through  a cannula that is inserted through your vagina. Any fluid movements are studied using a digital x-ray or fluoroscopy to chalk out the problem areas. Any spills at the ends give a green signal to the status of your fallopian tubes. It also enables the expert to assess the structure and shape of your uterus and fallopian tubes and occasionally pushes out any debris or mucous blocking in the tubes.

Is it painful?

While the patient experiences mild pain, there may be some mild cramping because of a distended uterus. The cramps may be more intense in patients with blocked tubes due to build-up of pressure at the point of blockage. The pain usually subsides after the procedure is done. To offer relief from this pain, patients are often given mild pain killers such as ibuprofen/ buscopan an hour before HSG.

Are there any side effects?

An HSG test is a safe procedure. However, there may be a

  1. Remote chance of infection in less than 1% of the cases and antibotics are given for the same.[1]
  2. Some patients may experience some dizziness during the test, which gets better once the procedure is completed.
  3. There is a risk of iodine allergy in some patients who may be allergic to other things such as shellfish that may cause irritation, itching or swelling.

It is good to notify your doctor about your potential allergy risks before an HSG test. The radiation from X-rays is very feeble and are not a cause for concern.

The doctor will most probably discuss the results of the HSG test with you during the procedure itself. In case of other major complications, your IVF specialist may order other tests to assess your chances of a successful pregnancy.


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