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A quick guide to hysterosalpingography

Hysterosalpingography is quite a mouthful, so we’ll just use HSG from this point onwards! This is a diagnostic procedure rather than a form of treatment.

When it comes to understanding what’s happening inside your body, the reproductive system can be a tough thing to figure out, even for highly trained specialists. HSG is sometimes necessary in order to figure out exactly what’s going on and what the next steps should be in order to resolve the problems and symptoms you’re experiencing.

Why do I need it?

HSG might be suggested to you by your doctor if he or she thinks you have problems with your uterus and/or your fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry eggs from your ovaries to the uterus). Your doctor may suspect that your tubes are blocked or that your uterus is scarred, both of which can be very common reasons for experiencing infertility and repeated pregnancy loss.

After the procedure, your doctor will take the time to talk you through what was found, and discuss with you what action, if any, should be taken.  

HSG won’t usually be recommended to you if you are pregnant, have a pelvic infection, or suffer from heavy bleeding. The timing of the procedure – in the first ten days of your menstrual cycle – helps to minimize the chances that you might be pregnant when the procedure is carried out. It is also not recommended for women who may have an allergy to the dye used during the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

There’s no general anesthetic required for this procedure but because it may cause some cramps, you may wish to take a standard dose of painkillers in advance of your appointment.

A speculum – the same sort of device used for a routine smear test – will be inserted into your vagina to hold it open. Your cervix will be cleansed and some local anesthetic may be injected. Another device will hold the cervix steady and then a thin tube will be slipped into your uterus through which special fluid will be run. This fluid fills your uterus and fallopian tubes so that their shape and structure is visible with an x-ray machine that will be held over your abdomen.

Where does all that liquid go? Well, if there’s no blockage (fingers crossed!), then it will spill out through the ends of the tubes near your ovaries and will be safely absorbed into your body. Otherwise, it will seep out through your vagina.

How will I feel afterwards?

You won’t have to worry about the side effects of a general anesthetic, and you’ll probably feel back to normal in one or two days. Common, minor side effects after HSG include unusual vaginal discharge, menstrual-like cramps, dizzy spells and slight bleeding or spotting. Serious complications are rare but there’s a small risk of getting an infection or your uterus being damaged.

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