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Infertility Cubby

The HSG Experience
   ~ a message board archive

From Chelsey ~ Please describe your HSG experience. I think lots of people start their infertility journey with an HSG, and I know it helped me a ton to read about other people's tests.

I was one of those lucky people who had an easy time with my HSG. Unfortunately, my insurance wouldn't approve the procedure at a hospital where my RE had radiology privileges, so I had a staff radiologist do the procedure. But he was very nice, and the assistant was great. I changed into a lovely hospital gown, but didn't have to remove any jewelry, even my navel ring.

The dilation of my cervix hurt a little bit, but there was no great pain. It is very interesting to see the dye flow up through my tubes, and I loved getting instant results. The dye didn't clear my left tube, so the doctor had me roll around on the table a little bit to see if the dye would get moving. It never did. He said that in his opinion, this happened because the dye went into my right tube so quickly that there wasn't enough pressure to get it to move up on the left side. He carefully explained everything to me.

The hospital provided a pad for me to use. I brought my own in case it was a monster hospital pad, but actually it was a nice variety. I had a little bit of the dye leak out, but no spotting or bleeding. In fact, I felt just fine. I went home and went running.

From KatieLee ~ Unfortunately, my HSG experience was awful! I had mine done in the hospital - outpatient. The entire process was painful for me. The dye moving through my left tube was unlike any other pain I've ever experienced. It was so much worse than an extreme menstrual cramp. The dye would not go through the right tube, so they had me roll around on the table. I was in TREMENDOUS pain. I describe it as they literally took me to the point of no return. When I reached the point of not being able to take it a second longer, it stopped. I was exhausted when it was over.

I agree, being able to get instant results was the best part about it. I found out my right tube was open and clear, but my left tube was likely blocked. They also thought something looked funny with my uterus, so they whisked me off to ultrasound. The ultrasound couldn't determine anything one way or another, so they scheduled me for a laparoscopy. That's a whole different story . . .

They didn't give me a pad and didn't tell me anything about possible 'leakage'. I did have some spotting and cramping on the way home, but NOTHING like the actual pain during the HSG.

From ikemiker ~ Mine was easy too. When they put the dye in, there was a slight bit of cramping; I wouldn't say painful, uncomfortable is a better description. I put my hand on my abdomen right as they took the picture (whoops) so they had to take it again. The whole thing took about 3 minutes.

You could see the dye in both of the tubes; I couldn't believe how long they were. My uterus leans way over to one side, so one tube was really stretched out, and the other was a little bunched up, but both were perfect.

There was a tiny area near the opening of the uterus that didn't fill with dye. The doctor said it was probably a little leftover tissue from my period, but he scheduled me for a hysteroscope to check it out. It turned out to be nothing.

Afterward, they gave me a pad, but I don't really remember there being a lot of leakage. I did have a little spotting a day later, but it was just a tiny amount.

From nj teacher ~ My experience was similar to KatieLee's. I was in excruciating pain. And just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, that I might have to jump off the table, the cramping subsided. Actually, it didn't feel like cramping - it felt like someone took a little knife and twisted it around inside my uterus. AH!

I was also able to see the dye go through my tubes, which was cool and took my mind off of the pain. The rest of the day I had mild cramping, similar to a light menstrual day.

I wonder if the amount of pain experienced is determined by the cycle day you had the test? Maybe if your cervix is closed, it hurts more?

From djg ~ The anticipation of having it was far worse than the procedure. I felt a few seconds of mild cramping when the doctor had me pivot from side to side for the x-rays. It took only a few minutes with instant results that were interesting to see. I did have a mild head rush/dizziness after I sat up on the table. They told me it was due to the iodine and it happens.

I admit to taking a vicodin prior to the HSG. My OB had me take antibiotics prior for infection prevention. I drove myself home and had a normal day afterwards with no leakage of dye, spotting or cramps. My insurance denied my claim for the HSG because it was marked infertility by the tech in error. My OB clearly stated it was for the Fibroid. It was resubmitted and the claim was paid 80%.

From seesa ~ My HSG experience was AWFUL (and I consider myself to have a very high pain tolerance)!!! I want to start off by saying that at first, we thought my problem was male factor (my husband had a slightly low sperm count), so before we started to an IUI, we decided to have an HSG done "just in case" since my insurance covered it, everything else about me was normal, periods, progesterone, etc etc. Because of scheduling issues, I was unable to have my own RE do the procedure. Instead I went to a local hospital to have it done. Once I got there, the nurses (whom were very friendly) instructed me to change into the gown and sit on the table until they are ready. After about 30 minutes of waiting, finally it was show time.

First, they dilated my cervix, which was slightly uncomfortable. Then I instantly feel a shooting, cramping feeling about 100 times worse than cramps, I wanted to vomit. I looked to the nurse, sweating, and asked her "is it supposed to hurt this much?" Seriously, I was in SO MUCH PAIN!! The nurse held my hand and said it was almost done. They had me turn a few ways back and forth, which I was surprised I could even do. (By the way, I couldn't even see the TV!!) I could tell the doc was trying to "push" the gel through me and I could feel it . . . I shudder to think about it.

Once I was done, the radiologist left and the nurses said to relax a few minutes. I remember that I FORGOT to tell the radiologist I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT was going on. The doctor left and was not coming back (I guess since he was not my doctor, he was not technically supposed to tell me what the results were). The nurse finally brought in the x-ray picture (she felt bad that the doc doesn't give me any info). My uterus looked good, however, there are two big balls at the end of those thin tubes. The nurse didn't know how to read it, but I knew something was wrong.

After getting back to work, I checked online to see sample pictures of HSGs and saw one that looked exactly like mine, the caption read "two blocked tubes, this patient had a successful IVF after removing her tubes." My world came crashing . . . Remove my tubes? IVF? I was devastated. I didn't know "officially" until 3 WEEKS LATER. I kept calling my RE's office to get results and the hospital hadn't "sent them yet." So I would give the hospital "one more day" to send it in. Finally, I called the hospital and told them to fax the results ASAP. By the next day, I spoke with my RE and he gave me the bad news and set a time to speak with him. At the meeting is when we discussed our "options" and the rest is history.

From acorn ~ I think I had a "middle of the road" HSG experience--painful but not that bad. My OB/GYN had ordered the HSG. She's in a large practice so I just got the OB/GYN in the group who was at the hospital that day. I'd never met him before (and had always used female doctors before, but he was really nice). I hadn't taken any Advil before going in. There was a technician and the doctor. It took him a couple of tries to be able to inject the fluid. They say expect some "cramping," but cramping isn't the term I'd use at all. To me it felt like sharp, but short, pain. Once the fluid was injected, it was back down to what I would call cramps. It's kind of neat because you can watch the video screen during the procedure. Both the doctor and the tech were really nice and kept asking me if I was ok. Once they'd finished getting all the pictures (stills and a video), they left me alone to relax while still lying down for about 15 minutes while the doctor consulted with a radiologist. The cramping went completely away in that amount of time. I then got dressed, and the doctor immediately came in and went through the results with me. He also gave me a prescription for antibiotics. Since they inject fluid, they want to make sure that you don't get an infection. Afterwards, I went straight back to work. It really wasn't that bad because the pain was quite short. I think it would have been easier if I'd remembered to take some Advil ahead of time.

From AmyA ~ My HSG was not pleasant. The dye made me cramp really, really bad. I had heard that it cramps a lot when your tubes are closed, but mine were open. I was just really surprised how bad it hurt. Not to scare anyone--I know that everyone experiences something a little different--but I don't want to ever do that again. The dye quickly spilled out the left side, but I had to roll my hips a little for the dye to travel out the right side. At first the radiologist and RE thought I had some abnormality in my uterus, but it turned out to be air bubbles. My RE took me to his office immediately afterwards to do an ultrasound after he injected my uterus with saline just to make sure there was nothing wrong and everything was fine. There have been women whose HSG showed their tubes were open and upon a lap procedure discovered that their tubes were actually closed. Maybe that was the case with me-maybe that's why I was in so much pain. I never had a lap though, just went straight to IVF. Take a pad/towel because you spot and the dye will leak out. No one told me about that!

From seg_l ~ By the time I had my HSG, we had been trying to conceive for a year and eight months with only a miscarriage to show for it. I was very ready, mentally, to have this test and just find out if this was the problem. My doctor doubted it because we had conceived on our own, within a normal amount of time, but you never know. My original OB/GYN didn't want to do it. She said it was not pleasant and she would rather just go straight for a lap. I had switched doctors for other reasons though and he wanted it, so off to the radiologist I went.

My radiology center had me do an enema prep before the test and we were told no sex from day one of my cycle until the day after the test. I took a few ibuprofen before the test and had my husband drive. The test was done before ovulation but after my period was over. It was slightly embarrassing to lie on the table with a doctor you've never met before sticking tubes and dye between your legs! The technician warned me ahead of time to "scream and yell if you want to, we've heard it all". I was quite nervous after that warning! However, I was one of the lucky ones because I can honestly say I had no pain. I kept waiting for it, but it never happened. I'm not sure if it was my mind set, the ibuprofen or the day of my cycle, but it really was fine. The nurse was amazed. She said the doctor I had was very gentle and used the most up to date equipment (shouldn't they all??). Although I didn't see the monitor they did tell me the results.

From scubamommy ~ My experience was a lot like Chelsey's and djg's. It wasn't as bad as I expected. As directed, I took 4 advil beforehand and had my husband come with me since I didn't know how I'd react.

The doctor was very nice and I asked him to tell me everything he was doing as he was doing it which he did. There was slight cramping as he dilated my cervix and I remember the dye going in as cold and causing a little more cramping but all of it was milder than my period. It was cool to see the dye shoot up and see that I had spotlessly clear tubes. I pretty much knew they'd be clear since my issue was repeat miscarriages.

There was a little leaking afterwards and I felt fine within an hour. I took 2 advil every 4 hours for the rest of that day. The anticipation was the worst part.

From heather ~ Mine went OK, too. I changed into a gown, and was VERY bummed to see the doctor I really didn't want to do the test walk in the room (they had promised me someone else). I remember mild crampy stuff (like my IUI's or a pap). I don't actually remember feeling any pain, but was a little shocked when the doctor pulled out the balloon that had been keeping the dye in my uterus. I think it hurts more, in general, if your tubes are blocked (mine were open). The worst part for me was the antibiotics - I vomited uncontrollably (doxycycline). I think I was on them for a week.

From looki ~ My HSG was awful. I was terrified even before they began the procedure because of all the things I've heard about it. The doctor started with inserting the speculum which was a piece of cake. Then she told me I'll feel a "pinch" as she put clips on my cervix. OUCH! It was a pretty sharp pain but I told myself "ok, if this is as worst as it gets, I can take it".

Then the dye started flowing in. It started as light menstrual cramps kind of feeling, but within a few seconds increased to terrible pressure in my abdomen that was really really painful. I started crying and felt I simply couldn't take the pain anymore. I wished it was over, but the pressure just increased and increased, then, it was over. I heard the doctor saying to the nurse "I think we opened her left tube." (It appeared that the flow to my left tube came a few seconds after the right one).

I was shaking as they helped me sit up, but most of the pain was gone. I rested in bed for some hours and had minimal spotting but otherwise was fine. Now, a couple years later, I can say that the real bad pain of the HSG felt just like a pretty bad labor contraction--very similar.

From Yael ~ I'd say mine wasn't too bad. I listened to everyone's advice and took some ibuprofen first. It hurt the most when the doctor (who I never met before, and I was annoyed that it was a male doctor) put in the speculum. I was on a flat table, so I think that also made it harder to put it in. It hurt when the dye went it, but it was tolerable. But the dye all when back out so fast, so they had to do it a second time. That was the worst part, having to go through the speculum being put in again, and then the dye again. I bled afterwards from the irritation to my cervix and then spotted dye for a few days. My tubes were open, but getting pregnant in the 3 cycles after didn't happen.

From julesybop ~ I just had mine a few days ago, and it was awful. I have a shellfish allergy, so I was put on prednisone before the HSG and told to take 50 mg of Benedryl the day of . . . needless to say, I was a little out of it. Hospital staff and my RE were wonderful. Speculum going in was slightly uncomfortable because it's larger than the normal ones used. The problem started with the dye going in. The cramps were so bad that I had to bite my hand to stop from crying. They tried and tried and the dye wouldn't leave my uterus. They believed that they saw some kind of fibroid/ tumor at the top of my uterus where the fallopian tube opens into the uterus, but they weren't sure because the dye couldn't get past. Dye never even went into other tube. It just kept pouring out of my uterus onto the table. My RE doesn't necessarily believe that both tubes are blocked. She thought that my uterus was in spasms as a result of the iodine allergy. Well, talk about spasms!! I drove myself to my appointment and regretted it. I could barely walk afterwards. I slowly made it to my car and laid on the back seat (in tears) for about an hour. The pain slowly subsided and I drove myself home. My spotting only lasted a day. My RE said we would talk about doing a lap next.

From 1stimemommy ~ I went into the office with butterflies in my stomach as most of you girls described your hsg as painful. I was already nervous that I now have a male doctor (all previous doctors were females) and to top it off, the nurse asked if it was ok for another male doctor to observe. I was like "excuse me?" Then I was like, sure why not. Let's make a party of it!

The worst part was when they inserted the catheter. I kept looking at the monitor and didn't know what to look for. Then after a minute, he said I was all done and my tubes are clear! What??? I didn't even see anything. Just a little glob. But I did see a staple! Clear as day. He said it wasn't a big deal - thank goodness. The best part - I didn't even leak! I joked with the nurse and said I sucked it all up. She said they didn't inject much dye because my tubes were soooo open.

From Lisa Jodi Duncan ~ All thumbs up experience for myself! I arrived and got my ultrasound done first to check my uterus etc. I then got prepped in my gown and a lovely nurse placed the big cushion under my hips. I was then shown the X-RAY machine that was going to go across my body and was told to stay very still and not breathe when they took the photos. She spoke to me for 10 minutes, then my doctor arrived and started getting the equipment ready, and I was getting scared then, as I could hear noise and instruments going everywhere; I felt like a rat about to get shots of something! Then, before I knew it, I had dye flowing through my tubes and was told I was completely fine! I even remember thinking IS THAT IT!!!!!! I felt fine ... little gassy , but that's it.

I remember jumping up and down telling my husband - LOOK I'm fineeee. I can jump, even do the splits if you want me too. As my husband and I read the night before I was going in that I would maybe get cramps and feel sick etc etc etc., so he was scared more then me.

From seachelle_704 ~ My hsg experience was awful. It was horribly painful. It was at the hospital with my RE. I was on a flat table. This will sound strange but it started off bad when he couldn't get the speculum in. It was pinching and hurting very bad. I was literally writhing in pain and about to cry. He finally said "OK this one isn't going to work get me another one." Then the other one still hurt but went in. Anyway when they dilated my cervix again, there was pinching. When they started pushing the dye in, I felt like really really bad menstrual cramps (but it was tolerable).

I could see the screen but it was hard for me to tell what was going on. (The screen wasn't real close to me and the tubes were TINY.) Anyway, I heard him say get more dye and I'll try to push it through. (By this point I was soooo ready to be done with it) Anyway he pushed more dye in and it went through both tubes. Then he was done and after it was over I was kind of dizzy when I sat up. He told me both tubes were clear, but he had to push extra dye in to make it go through. Anyway I felt weak afterward and went straight home to bed.

Also I should mention, a couple of days after the hsg, we had sex and I got pregnant. However, I had a chemical pregnancy (miscarried before implantation). I asked the doctor if the dye could have caused it and he said possibly. He did say some people have successful pregnancies the month of their hsg. But I will always wonder if I shouldn't have tried to conceive that month.

From crg ~ My HSG was very uneventful. I wasn't told to take Advil beforehand and I didn't need it. It didn't hurt at all, just felt a little strange when the catheter balloon was inflated but didn't hurt at all. My tubes were open, uterus normal.

I had my HSG done at a radiology clinic by a radiologist. That was really embarrassing. I had seen this great looking doctor in the hallway and hoped he wouldn't be the one to do the HSG, so you know that's exactly who walked in the door.

My husband was with me. The weird part was having to have that stupid speculum in for so long and lying on the x-ray table for a few minutes after it was over, with my legs together while waiting to see if the film came out ok or needed repeating.

We watched the dye go through my uterus and tubes on a monitor. Kind of cool to see.

From JenG ~ I had my HSG after trying to conceive for about 8 months. I was pretty sure that something was going on, but my husband and doctor thought I was crazy. I had the test done at the hospital in the radiology department. My doctor completed the test. My husband is a physician at the hospital so he was in the room. I remember it was uncomfortable having the speculum inserted but not terrible. Similar to other people's experience, it was the insertion of the dye that was most uncomfortable. I also had the sensation of increasing cramping that seemed to continue until I thought I couldn't stand it. But, then it was over. I thought it was so cool to see the dye shoot through the tubes on the screen. I should have known something was up because the doctor backed away and started talking to the tech. Anyway, he pointed out to us that although the test was negative for blocked tubes (which we were happy about) it showed that I had a bicornuate uterus. I had never even heard of this so it was pretty shocking. He suggested that we follow up with an MRI which confirmed this result. All in all, I don't remember feeling much pain or discomfort the rest of the day. I was more concerned about what we had learned and worried about what it would mean.

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