Posted .

For women who are having a difficult time conceiving, a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) may be ordered by your fertility physician. The HSG is routinely used to look for blocked fallopian tubes. It has the added bonus of observing the uterus for normal shape, fibroids, adhesions or polyps. Understanding the procedure, and what to expect during and after the exam can reduce anxiety or worry about having it done.

The HSG test can be performed in a fertility center or in a radiology department. Utah Fertility Center physicians and nurse practitioners frequently perform HSG exams. The exam itself is very similar to having a routine pap smear. In addition to a speculum, a small flexible catheter is placed to introduce iodinated contrast (dye) into the uterus for visualization. The speculum is removed and while watching on an x-ray video monitor, the dye is injected to fill the uterus followed by filling and outlining of the open fallopian tubes. Open vs. blocked tubes can be identified immediately. Generally, the entire test is completed in less than 30 minutes.

Cramping during the procedure may be experienced and is similar to menstrual cramps. It usually only lasts during the short duration the dye is introduced but for some may last a few hours. Ibuprofen or similar over the counter medication is recommended taken 1 hour prior to exam to reduce discomfort. Light spotting is possible after the procedure. Many females do not experience either of these.

The Hysterosalpingogram test is a safe and effective way for one to better understand their infertility. Complications are exceptionally rare, less than 1% of the time. The exam does require “live” x-ray to see the injected dye, but it involves a very small amount of radiation that is not known to produce any unwanted effects. Any fever, rash, itching or swelling after procedure should be immediately reported to provider or physician.

Mackenzie Martin is a health writer and Utah Fertility Center provided the information for this piece. This piece was reviewed by Nurse Practitioner Anne Marie Martin. Mackenzie writes for Fusion 360, an advertising agency in Utah. Find her on Google +.