Discover how a hysterosalpingogram can provide insights about female fertility
To conceive naturally, a woman needs to have a good supply of healthy eggs and ovulate (release an egg) regularly. However, that’s not all. A woman also needs open fallopian tubes and a normal uterine cavity (womb). Using an X-ray procedure called a hysterosalpingogram, or HSG, David T. Vandermolen MD can assess the state of the fallopian tubes and the uterus. The findings of this fertility test will help our Northern Louisiana fertility doctor develop a customized treatment plan for the patient.
How does an HSG work?
Our team performs this diagnostic procedure on an outpatient basis, typically after a patient’s menstrual period and before ovulation. To start, the patient will lie on a table under a fluoroscope (an X-ray imager). After placing a speculum and cannula (thin tube) in the patient’s vagina, cervix, Dr. Vandermolen will use a cannula to gently fill the patient’s uterus with liquid that contains iodine. The liquid will show up as white on X-ray imaging.
- With a hysterosalpingogram, our Northern Louisiana fertility doctor will be able to see the contour of the uterus and any abnormalities in it as the liquid travels through it. Uterine anomalies can interfere with embryo implantation, which is essential for pregnancy.
- When the liquid enters the fallopian tubes, it will highlight the length of the tubes. If the tubes are open, the liquid should spill out the ends. If the tubes are blocked or damaged, the liquid cannot spill out. Blockages make it difficult to impossible for the egg and sperm to meet and for the fertilized egg to reach the uterus.
The entire procedure only takes about five minutes to complete, and the patient can resume her normal activities afterwards. It’s not uncommon to experience moderate uterine cramping during or after the procedure. However, pain medications are prescribed.
What happens if abnormalities appear on the hysterosalpingogram?
Our Northern Louisiana fertility doctor will make different treatment recommendations based on what he discovers during the HSG.
- If Dr. Vandermolen identifies any abnormalities inside the uterus, he may recommend a saline uterine cavity ultrasound to further define the findings or office hysteroscopy to correct the issue.
- In the case of blocked fallopian tubes, he will likely suggest in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a treatment to bypass the tubes. However, blockages at the ends of the tubes near the ovaries may need surgery before IVF.
Keep in mind an HSG cannot assess a patient’s ovaries, diagnose endometriosis or identify fibroids outside of the uterine cavity. However, other diagnostic tools, including transvaginal ultrasound and minimally invasive surgery, can help diagnose these issues.
If you would like to learn more about how fertility testing options like hysterosalpingogram can help you on your path to parenthood, contact us. Dr. Vandermolen and our entire team are here to provide the support you need to bring home a healthy baby.