This post is only based on my experience/views on my personal infertility journey. I am not a medical professional. Please seek medical advice if you have concerns or questions related to infertility.
This week I had to go and have another fertility test and after reading up on it I was anxious and a little scared. I wasn’t planning on writing a post about my experience but there are a lot of horror stories out there and although I found the procedure uncomfortable and very painful for a short time it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Also as a fibro sufferer I was concerned how the test might impact my condition and I was unable to find much online about other spoonies who have had the test, so I feel it is important to share my experience.
What is a Hysterosalpingogram?
So I had to have a Hysterosalpingogram or HSG scan which is an X-ray, using a dye contrast, of your uterus and fallopian tubes. The test helps determine if there are any issues with the uterus or fallopian tubes that could be resulting in fertility issues. The test is carried out by day 10 of your cycle and you must abstain from sex between day 1 and the test. The test actually only lasts a few minutes but my appointment was about 20 minutes long as they explain the test, set up and then give you time to gather yourself after.
What happens during the test?
When I arrived at the hospital I was first asked to remove my bottom layers of clothes and put on a hospital gown, I then had to wait a few minutes to be called through. Once in the X-ray room I was greeted by two female members of staff and the door was locked so there would be no interruptions. I was first asked to lay on the bed and the radiographer explained the procedure and then went through some legal questions regarding day of cycle, checking I wasn’t pregnant and discussing any known issues with previous uterine infections. She explained that the pain level of the test varies from woman to woman depending on what their periods are like, the shape of the uterus and if there are any blockages. It was explained that they were looking at two things in the test; whether the uterus was a normal shape (upside down triangle) and if the tubes were clear of abnormalities. The actually test involves placing a speculum in the vagina to open the cervix and then passing a small catheter into the hole in the cervix to allow a clear dye to be passed through the uterus and fallopian tubes. The radiographer explained that the procedure is similar to when we have a period. Normally our uterus fills with fluid (blood) and then when it can’t go any further it spills out through the fallopian tubes. During the test I was told it would feel like period cramps as the brain doesn’t distinguish between blood and the dye.
As the catheter was inserted I felt a little discomfort and it wasn’t until the dye was being injected that it started to become uncomfortable and painful. The actual test only takes a few minutes and it is like a sudden onset of your worst period pains, I admit it took my breath a way. I have quite painful periods so this was expected and as soon as the catheter was removed and the dye was able to leave the body the pain receded immediately and it felt like the last days of a period; slight cramping and an uncomfortable feeling. Whilst the dye is being injected images are taken every coupleof seconds and I was able to watch the screen to see the fluid moving around.
I do admit that during the two minutes (which felt like 10minutes) of intense pain I questioned whether I even wanted to have a baby as I’m not good with pain, but the pain receded quickly and that thought disappeared.
After the test/results?
After the test the radiographer explained to me that I had a normal shaped uterus and that there were no obvious blockages. This doesn’t explain why I am having fertility issues but is a good sign. I’m not sure if all radiographers tell their patients the outcome but it is clear when you see the scan on the screen.
After the test I was given a few minutes to sit as the dye will run out and then allowed to clean myself up before going to change back into my clothes. I was given an after care sheet explaining that there may be some bleeding (I only spotted immediately after) and you can have period type cramps for a couple of days similar to the last days of a regular period. I was also told that if I bled a lot or if the pain was really bad to see my GP. I only suffered mild tummy cramps the day of and morning after the test and have been fine since. I returned to work after my scan and was able to carry out my normal routine.
- As advised in appointment letter take your normal painkillers for your period an our before. I also have fibromyalgia, so I took ibuprofen and cocodamol as I am in a flare at the moment so wanted to limit the risk of increasing symptoms.
- Take a sanitary towel with you to wear after for any left over dye leakage and/or bleeding.
- Try to relax, take deep breaths and remember the test only lasts a few minutes.
I now have to wait to see my consultant in December and see what he believes is the right course of action. I am hopeful that I will become pregnant soon and if the rumours on the internet are true maybe my fertility may be increased after having the test? I find this highly doubtful but you never know!
I hope this post has helped, especially if you have a chronic illness and suffering with infertility. There isn’t much information for spoonies on infertility and pregnancy. The blogs and YouTube channels I read and watch are where I get most of my inspiration in knowing that my chronic illness doesn’t have to stop my dream of having a family and that it can be done.