Say That Again?
During an OB/GYN visit, the doctor may mention a hysterosalpingogram. That sounds like a mouthful, but a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an effective medical examination. HSG is an x-ray that reviews a woman’s reproductive organs for anomalies. This procedure helps diagnose blockages in the fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility. HSG also helps determine the shape of the uterus. These exams have some key benefits, particularly for women with fertility problems.
The HSG procedure
HSG is an x-ray that gives a view of the woman's uterus and fallopian tubes. A contrast agent is inserted into the uterus through the vagina during this procedure. The process can be painful as HSG stretches the organ. In some cases, the doctor may use local anesthesia. After the dye is added, the patient will move to the imaging machine. As the dye fills the uterus and fallopian tubes, the doctor will completely view the organ. If there is no blockage, the non-toxic dye spills out of the tubs and is absorbed by the body.
Assessing uterine health
Why do doctors depend on an HSG? One fundamental purpose is to assess the health of the uterus. The uterus is vital for implantation, gestation, menstruation, and childbirth. However, millions of women develop uterine scarring, polyps, fibroids, and irregular growth. These abnormal growths can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting or cause irregular menstruation. The thickness and shape of the uterine walls can also prevent a full-term pregnancy. An HSG can help an OB/GYN properly diagnose these issues. Early detection allows doctors to provide the right infertility treatment.
Checking blocked fallopian tubes
The fallopian tubes are essential parts of a woman's reproductive system. The tubes transport both sperm and fertilized egg at different points of conception. Due to various conditions, these tubes can become blocked, preventing the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus for implantation. The most common reasons are endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. An HSG is one of the best ways to confirm blocked fallopian tubes. The doctor can then recommend medication, surgery, or fertility treatments like IVF.
Can it improve fertility?
There is a growing debate that HSG can help improve fertility. Many believe that the dye is a way of flushing the uterus and fallopian tubes. Some women experience unexplained infertility, meaning there is no physical reason for the lack of pregnancy. Studies show that when using an oil-based dye, the chances of pregnancy significantly increased over 6 months. While the figures show success, HSG is only one part of a comprehensive review of fertility. Some women may still need Assisted Reproductive Technology.
The power of HSG
HSG helps assess conditions of the uterus and fallopian tubes. The procedure is a handy tool for determining some reasons for infertility. From there, the doctor can recommend the proper treatment to increase the chances of pregnancy. In some cases, HSG may even improve fertility. However, the procedure can have uncomfortable side effects like cramping, nausea, and minor vaginal bleeding. The OB/GYN will ensure these symptoms are kept to a minimum. However, the benefits of HSG far outweigh the risks.