HSG Testing- all the fun details
I’m not going to lie to you BB’s (remember, loyal followers, that this stands for Barren Betty’s and not Basic Bitches - which would be offensive), I don’t even remember what HSG stands for, as it’s been a little while since I had mine and it is likely a repressed memory. But to help my loyal followers who are going through this for the first time, I am happy to reach into my mind palace (btw, anyone watch Sherlock?) and give as many helpful details as possible. This test seems to be the gateway drug of fertility tests - not that anyone WANTS to have these tests done - but it’s like the first swig of Boon’s Farm you have in middle school as far as fertility testing is concerned. As a side note, I wonder what Boon’s Farm actually tastes like as an adult, and if it still exists?
In my experience, the test was done at a hospital - maybe because they have to run an x-ray during the test? I didn’t have extensive pre-test instructions that I recall, other than to take some ibuprofen about an hour before the test, and I believe the test had to be done during a specific time of my cycle, but they obviously scheduled it accordingly. As a disclaimer, I am an educated person and try to not sound like an idiot, but I am vastly inadequate when it comes to having a really solid physiologic understanding of how even my own female body parts work. Apologies in advance - we’re all learning here.
The beginning is always the worst for me, even though it is generally the least painful part of all tests. My RE who administered the test was amazing, but one of my most vivid memories of HSG testing is that he was talking about how both of his kids slept in his bed the night before and he didn’t get any sleep. This conversation was happening alongside the insertion of the cold speculum thingy and then the swabbing of my cervix with whatever large q-tip-type object is used to sterilize the area. None of this hurts - it’s just a little cold and weird. Anyway, I was more worried that he was too sleep deprived to poke the catheter thing (the next part - the part that introduces the dye) into me, but as surgeons are used to working on no sleep he was fine.
The part that is a bit anxiety-inducing to me is the catheter. However, after now having had a catheter introduced many times for many different tests, it really isn’t that bad. For me it is a mild cramping sensation, and I’d honestly take the catheter over my annual pap smear (however I call the NP I go to for my annuals “the butcher”, so maybe that isn’t a great point of reference). But seriously, the catheter part is a little uncomfortable, but not painful. The next part I would classify as moderately uncomfortable, I may have felt additional discomfort as my uterus is ABNORMAL, but I think as a general rule when dye is flushed through any Betty’s fallopian tubes it isn’t a walk in the park. After the catheter is placed, the dye is introduced, and this part is actually quite quick- maybe 60 seconds. The dye feels very cold and I actually kind of liked that feeling, though it also feels like you’re peeing - which is weird. Throughout this time you will likely feel moderate cramping and maybe some pain.
At the time it seemed like my test took longer than expected because it was abnormal and he was trying to get a better scan (but I bet it took the same amount of time as anyone else). Time goes very slowly when you have a piece of plastic poking THROUGH your cervix that shoves dye into your inner girl tubes. The overall time from speculum to dye is probably just under five minutes.
The test is uncomfortable and - for a very brief amount of time and when the dye is inserted - it was painful, but for me it was not extreme pain by any means. I found comfort in the weight of the lead vest you have to wear to protect from the x-ray machine. Side note: I’ve been thinking about buying a weighted blanket? Any BB’s out there have one?
Overall, I remember reading online about this test and I was anxious about it before going in. It ended up not being nearly as bad as I expected and I had an abnormal test that tends to make it on the more uncomfortable side. Just make sure to wear loose clothing afterward, and if they don’t give you a pad you should bring one to use. I had some mild cramping and very minimal bleeding following the test. I was also slightly dizzy, but this is maybe more connected to the anxiety and I tend to sweat an embarrassingly excessive amount when I’m nervous. I was even able to go to the gym that evening without any issues.
Overall I think the pre-test nerves are a lot worse than the actual test. However, that wasn’t the case for my first saline sonogram . . . but that’s for another day and has a happy ending.
BB’s: How was your HSG? Any advice for anyone having their first?