Yesterday, I enjoyed a visit to the Radiology department at the Harrisburg Hospital.
I was pretty anxious. Ok so really anxious.
I've been lucky enough to have a pretty healthy life so far. I've never had to have x-rays, or broken bones, or surgery or anything. Well, to be fair, I did have stiches when I was 4 after taking a header into a corner of the wall. I can remember bits and pieces of that visit to the hospital: just slightly do I see the doctor's standing above me, and I remember screaming bloody murder, but I truly don't remember the pain or the feeling of the stitches going in.
So, walking into a hospital for this was a little unsettling. Something I knew I had to do, but anxiety inducing none-the-less. My mom drove down and went with me...while my hubby stayed home with the daycare kiddos. I'm so glad she was able to come with me. Just knowing she was there with me, eased some of my nerves & allowed me to be more open to the experience.
So, anyways to be technical: The HSG test (or hysterosalpingogram, or hystogram) is an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test is done between days 7-10 of your cycle, after mustruation has stopped but before ovulation.
The test is performed by a doctor, radiology assistant and nurse. You lie on your back with feet placed as you would for a pelvic exam. The doctor will insert a speculum to hold open the vagina to allow for a view of the cervix. They clean the cervix and insert a device to hold the cervix steady. Then they pass a thin tube into the uterus. As the radiology assistant takes pictures with the x-ray machine, the doctor injects a special dye through the thin tube into the uterus and fallopian tubes. The fluid will cause the uterus to stretch, resulting in uterine cramping. If the fallopian tubes are blocked, this fluid will cause them to stretch also, maybe causing pain as well. Images are taken as the fluid fills the uterus and tubes, they may ask you to turn from left to right to better grab pictures. If there is no blockage of the tubes and/or scarring of the tubes or uterus, the fluid will slowly spill out the ends of the tubes. After it does, it will be absorbed by the abdominal wall cells. After the test there are some minor side effects. These include, a sticky vaginal discharge (fluid draining), cramping, feeling dizzy, faint or nauseus, there may also be slight vaginal bleeding. There are some risks and/or complications to this procedure including allergic reaction to the dye, injury to the uterus or pelvic infection. Please discuss the symptoms for these with your doctor prior to the exam. Be sure to have someone drive you home after due to the possibility of some of the side-effects.
For my exam, I was instructed to take 400mg of ibuprofen 1 1/2 hours before the procedure to help alleviate any pain during the exam. I did, but it didn't help much. I have to tell you...the insertion of the tube and the fluid was painful. For me it was close to a 7 on the 1-10 pain scale (1=lowest, 10=highest). However, like I previously stated, I have never really had any chronic pain, trauma or surgery. I've never given birth, I've never had a broken bone. I don't really know what real pain is. So, when I was told there would be some moderate cramping, I just assumed it would be close in relation to my menstrual cramps. NOT SO! At least for me, this was the worst cramping I've ever felt...and I thought I've had some pretty bad ones. It was sharp, acute pain and seemed to last the ENTIRE time. I don't write this to scare anyone reading this, just be prepared for intense pressure and some acute pain. Feel free to tell them it hurts and squeeze the sheets/blankets. Once the tube is removed, for me the pain went away almost immediately. I did have some general feelings of spasms after, with some discharge and some nausea, but that was all VERY minor and didn't bother me much at all.
The results were positive and gave me much relief. My tubes and uterus are clear of any blockage and/or scarring. In fact the doctor was saying during the exam that the fluid was moving beautifully and everything was clear. The doctor performing the exam did mention that there might be a slight heart-shape to my uterus, but she hasn't seen enough of them to be definitive. So, I must wait to hear from my doctor after the radiologist has a chance to look at the films and write his report. I have been doing some research on a bicarbauate uterus, and there are some scary issues with that and pregnancy, but that is for another post when I have more information, including whether it is an issue for me or not.