Clearing The Way For Pregnancy

A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is used to look for blockages in the fallopian tubes that could prevent pregnancy. The exam can also check the size and shape of the uterus. While diagnostic, this procedure may help flush out the tubes, making pregnancy possible.


Understanding unexplained infertility

When a woman is diagnosed with unexplained infertility, this means there is no identifiable cause for the inability to get pregnant. The diagnosis is often made after extensive testing to rule out the most common causes of fertility problems. While an actual diagnosis is nice to have, unexplained infertility often leaves women feeling frustrated. Without a specific problem to fix, there isn’t much a woman can do to increase the chances of conception.

What is an HSG?

A hysterosalpingogram is a diagnostic procedure used by infertility doctors. The appointment will be scheduled during the first half of the menstrual cycle to reduce the chance of the woman being pregnant. During the in-office HSG, a contrast agent is injected into the fallopian tubes and uterus. x-ray images are then taken to visualize blockages, such as a polyp or fibroid. If a blockage is identified, the doctor can remove the growth to improve the chances of pregnancy.

Possible side effects

Slight vaginal bleeding and cramping can occur after an HSG, but side effects are generally thought to be short-term and mild. Over-the-counter (OTC) medication can help with any pain. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed before the procedure to reduce the chance of infection.

Clear tubes, clear pathway

With the tubes cleared, many women with infertility report getting pregnant soon after an HSG.
Research confirms this phenomenon with a recent study showing that women who had an HSG done with an oil-based contrast were much more likely to have a live birth. Most people report that pregnancy is more probable within the first 3 months after the procedure.

Understanding the mechanism

The exact reason an HSG leads to increased pregnancy rates is unknown, but many healthcare professionals explain the concept as flushing out the tubes. With a clear pathway through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, the embryo is more likely to implant as desired. Does this mean all women struggling to get pregnant should have an HSG? Likely not, as the main purpose of the procedure is to diagnose blockages. However, if a patient with unexplained infertility happens to be scheduled for a hysterosalpingogram, a positive unintended side effect may be increased chances of pregnancy in the months following.

Getting pregnant post-HSG

A hysterosalpingogram is often part of the routine workup for women who cannot get pregnant. Although not guaranteed, the procedure may increase the chances of conception shortly after the HSG is completed. Women with unexplained infertility should consider all options, including an HSG, to improve the chances of pregnancy.

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