HSG is used to diagnose problems of the uterus and fallopian tubes and can help check to see if a woman’s tubes are partly or fully blocked. It also can show if the inside of the uterus is of a normal size and shape. It is usually done in a clinic and it is best to have an HSG done in the first half (days 1–14) of the menstrual cycle. This timing reduces the chance that you may be pregnant.
Before the procedure you will be asked to lie on your back with your feet placed just like they would be during a pelvic exam. A device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina. It holds the walls of the vagina apart to allow the cervix to be viewed. The end of the cervix may be injected with local anesthesia (pain relief). A fluid containing a dye, is placed in the uterus and fallopian tubes. The dye outlines the inner size and shape of the tubes allowing the doctor to see how the dye moves through the body structures. The fluid may cause cramping and if the tubes are blocked, the fluid will cause them to stretch. X-ray images are made as the contrast medium fills the uterus and tubes.
Following the HSG you can expect to have a sticky vaginal discharge as some of the fluid drains out of the uterus in addition to a little blood. You can use a pad for the vaginal discharge, however do not use a tampon. You could also experience cramps and a feeling of dizziness or nausea. Severe problems after an HSG are rare but could include an allergic reaction to the dye, injury to the uterus or a pelvic infection.
If you experience any of these symptoms call your gynecologist:
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Fever or chills
HSG is one of the best ways to diagnose problems of the uterus and fallopian tubes and while the risks of HSG are low you should talk to your doctor about any other procedures or tests that can be done. They will also be able to answer any questions before, during or after the procedure to make the process as easy as possible.