The HSG, commonly referred to as the “dye test” is an x-ray test, lasts about 5 minutes, involves low levels of radiation, and is usually performed by a radiologist. The test is generally performed on day 5-11 of the menstrual cycle (after bleeding stops and prior to ovulation).

How is the HSG performed?

The procedure involves placement of a speculum into the vagina to view the cervix (similar to a pap smear). The cervix is then washed with an antiseptic solution and an instrument may be placed on the cervix to aid with manipulation. A thin catheter is placed through the cervix and a small amount of contrast dye is injected while x-ray pictures are captured as the dye passes through the uterus and then into the fallopian tubes. During the procedure, real-time x-ray images are displayed on a monitor. These images are analyzed to detect abnormalities of the uterus, such as abnormal shape, scarring, polyps, or fibroids that may interfere with implantation of an embryo. The images are also analyzed to detect blocked or damaged fallopian tubes that may prevent a fertilized egg from successfully reaching the uterine cavity.

While it is a rather quick and tolerable procedure, proper preparation and understanding of what to expect may make the experience better. Prior to the procedure, it is often recommended to take an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Alleve or an equivalent. During the procedure, it is common to experience menstrual-like cramps or minor short-term discomfort. However, women with blocked fallopian tubes may report more intense pain. Vaginal spotting is also fairly common following the procedure. A rare complication from the procedure is a pelvic infection. Women with a history of prior pelvic infection are at increased risk, and therefore may be prescribed prophylactic antibiotics. It is unlikely that the procedure will result in damage to the uterus. Allergic reaction to the iodine-based dye is also an uncommon complication, unless there is a history of shellfish allergy. Because the procedure involves no sedation or anesthesia, the majority of patients are capable of driving home and returning to work following the procedure, and generally experience only mild crampy pain or discomfort.

The HSG test is used to examine a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. It is essentially an x-ray procedure in which a dye is injected through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This “dye” appears white on the x-ray, and allows the radiologist and your doctor to see if there are any abnormalities, such as an unusually shaped uterus, tumors, scar tissue or blockages in the fallopian tubes.

If you are trying to get pregnant in the same cycle as an HSG, make sure to schedule the test prior to ovulation so that there is no danger of “flushing out” a released egg or developing embryo. Although most women report only minor cramping and short-term discomfort during this procedure, some women, especially those who have blocked tubes, report pain and therefore it is advised by RMA to take Ibuprofen or similar over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) one hour prior to the HSG testing.

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