What are they?
A hysterosalpingogram (hystero – uterus; salpingo – tube; gram – x-ray) test is, as the word describes, a 5-minute, x-ray analysis of the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Specifically, doctors will insert dye (radiographic contrast) into the uterus through a small tube through the vagina and cervix, and as the dye travels through the uterus and fallopian tubes, x-ray pictures are taken. Quickly after the test is complete, the doctor will discuss the results of the test with the patient.
What is the point?
HSG tests are used to determine whether there are any abnormalities, blockages, or injuries within the female reproductive system. Many say that they are an effective way to determine if there are any problems that need to be taken care of before attempting to conceive. If the fallopian tubes are in fact open, the dye within the uterus will travel through them and eventually spill into the abdominal area. This is a good sign and means you are officially "open" for business! (Excuse the unnecessary pun haha)
What else, exactly, can be seen besides whether the tubs are open or not?
Since this test gives a complete image of the reproductive organ and the surrounding area, any visual abnormality can be spotted. At the time of the test, the radiologist (the type of doctor responsible for performing a hysterosalpingogram test) can check for congenital uterine anomalies, polyps, scar tissue within the uterus or fallopian tubes, and fibroid tumors.This also brings up another question: can this procedure replace the need of a hysteroscopy when assessing the uterus? Well, studies have shown that the HSG can in fact replace the need of a hysteroscopy and has proven to be just as effective in terms of making sure the uterus is in good health.
What causes fallopian blockages?
Most blockages are caused by:
- Prior birth control surgery that has damaged or obstructed part of the fallopian tube
- Scar tissue
- Uterine Fibroids
- Genital Tuberculosis
- Tubal reversal
- Ectopic pregnancy
- And Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID – causing more than 100,000 instances of female infertility a year)
Can the test, by itself, increase my fertility?
This is where a lot of the controversy lies, because some studies have actually shown a small increase in the chance of conception within the months following an HSG! Some say that during the test, the slight movement of liquid within the fallopian tubes actually flushes them out and clears any small blockages that may have previously been there, now allowing for proper fertilization. Others say that specific ingredients within the dye may increase the thickness and health of the uterine lining, better allowing for the implantation of an egg within the uterus. However, despite these logical reasonings, there is actually no medical evidence to support it, and the test has been used more as a diagnostic tactic rather than a treatment! So it's really a personal judgment.
So, it sounds all too perfect, right – What are the side effects?
Possible side effects of the procedure include:
- Endometrial lining or fallopian infection
- Allergic reaction to radiologic contrast dye
- Dizziness and fainting
- Injury to the uterus (i.e. perforation)
- Heavy bleeding
- Sever pain and cramps
- Pungent vaginal discharge
Is there an alternate solution?
There are a few other alternate procedures including Chromotubation and Sonohysterography to determine if the fallopian tubes are blocked. However, once one knows if they have a blockage, they are often referred to a number of surgical and invasive procedures (such as a Salpingectomy) to clear their fallopian tubes, but many of us reading this article may be searching for an alternate, natural solution. Many natural ways to work towards an open fallopian tube are available to us! These include:
- Fertility detox
- Systemic enzyme therapy
- Fertility massage ( there are many clinics that specialize in the clearing of fallopian tubes via massage)
- Castor oil therapy
- And, of course, herbs!
- Ginger root
- Wild Yam
- Uva Ursi
- And Usnea
With this article I hope you have become better familiar with the HSG test, and helped you decide if it is all what you thought it to be.
For what many women forget is that HSG is meant to be diagnostic, and not as a way to improve fertility; well, not directly, anyway. And if you do in fact conceive after the test, then you can view it as a little extra bonus! So what do you think? Is it worth looking into?
Sarah Clark empowers couples to discover how lifestyle and diet can dramatically impact their chances of conceiving. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both her kids with donor eggs. Not until years later did she discover that the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. Join the Free Fab Fertile Support Group on Facebook for mini-challenges, motivation and inspiration!