When a woman is unable to get pregnant despite trying for more than a year, she is considered infertile, and the doctors need to do tests to determine what is wrong.
Fallopian Tube Blockage
Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes are one of the commonest causes of female infertility. It is very difficult to detect the blockage or damage in the fallopian tubes by mere physical examination. This is when a fallopian tube test -Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is performed.
This outpatient test helps the doctor get a closer look at the fallopian tubes. It is almost always ordered as a part of an infertility panel test. The fallopian tubes are an integral part of a woman's reproductive system and any damage or disease in them may leave them unusable.
What Does the HSG Do?
- The HSG helps doctors check if the fallopian tubes are open or not. If the fallopian tube test determines that the tubes are blocked, the woman will not be able to conceive normally
- The test can also tell the doctor where the blockage is and how severe it is
- It can also tell whether the shape of the uterus is normal or not. In almost 10% to 15% women who experience recurrent loss of pregnancy, the problem is attributed to an abnormally shaped uterus. Many of these abnormalities can be treated with the help of surgery.
How is an HSG Done?
- The fallopian tube test is performed in a X-ray clinic
- You will be made to lie down on an examination table, and a quick pelvic exam will be conducted
- The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to insert another device called cannula inside it
- Through the cannula, an iodine based dye is injected into the vagina. Instead of using a metal canula, most doctors today use a sterile disposable plastic catheter, which is safer and less painfil.
- After the dye is injected, the doctor will take X-Ray images of your pelvic area. At least 3 images will be taken, including a delayed film. The delayed film is done by removing the catheter, asking you to walk around, and then repeating the X-ray. This allows the doctor to check that the dye has spilled into the pelvic cavity normally.
- These detailed images will allow your doctor to tell if there is any blockage in any part of your fallopian tubes
Take a look at what an HSG image
Read more about How your doctor interprets HSG images
Is this Test Safe?
An HSG can be painful and taking a pain-killer before and after the HCG can help you cope better with the pain. Few women have the courage and fortitude to get a second HSG done ! Most doctors will also give an antibiotic to reduce the possible risk of infection. Just like any other imaging test, this is safe, apart from the small risk of the X-Ray radiations. The amount of X-Ray radiation received is very insignificant .
The fallopian tube test is an important part of the overall testing for infertility. Women who have either not successfully conceived despite trying for several years, or those who have experienced recurrent miscarriages are usually sent in for this test to check for problems with fallopian tubes.