HSG Definition and Patient Experiences


HSG stands for hysterosalpingography. In this procedure a dye is injected into the uterus and radiography is taken. The objective is to look for anatomic problems, such as whether the tubes are open, presence of fibroids, polyps, or structural problems with the uterine cavity. The procedure is usually done in the first half of a woman's cycle.

Medical Definition

Hysterosalpingography – roentgenography of the uterus and uterine tubes.*

Roentgenography – the taking of pictures (roentgenograms) of internal structures of the body by passage of x-rays through the body to act on specially sensitized film.*

Hysterosalpingography – radiography of the uterus and uterine tubes after the injection of opaque material. Called also uterosalpingography, uterotubography, hysterotubography, metrosalpingography, metrotubography. **

* B. F. Miller and C. B. Keane. Encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine, nursing and allied health. Second Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1987 
** Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary. 28th Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1994.

Patient experiences of HSG

First Experience:

“2 HSG - very different. First HSG (about 30 mins) Uterus and cervical canal scarred shut, although I took painkillers before going to hospital procedure was VERY painful as they were trying to force the catheter through scar tissue. No dye went in at all. Second HSG (about 20 mins) (carried out a week after in office hysteroscopy) was uncomfortable but not painful, I did not take painkillers before I went in, the catheter went in without any pain and the dye filled the uterine cavity and flowed into the tubes and ovaries.”

Second Experience:

“HSG – Had it done by a local radiologic group (my OB/GYN sent me to them). They did not tell me to, but I recommend taking some advil before hand, for the cramping. The doctor inserted a catheter thru the cervix, and inflated a small balloon, so the dye doesn’t come right out. They inject dye and take the x-rays, so they can see if the tubes are blocked or not. In my case, there was not any room for the balloon to expand, so this was very painful for me. I think usually the procedure is just uncomfortable, but for me it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I had severe cramping afterwards, and did not return to work after the test. The test did not take long, it was probably less than 30 minutes. I also experienced some spotting for a few days afterward (which they said would occur).”

Third Experience: 

“It was not too bad and less painful than I expected. On my doctor’s recommendation, I took 4 ibuprofen (800 mg) about 2 hours before the procedure. 

I had to lay on an x-ray table, with my feet in stirrups. I think a speculum was inserted first and then my cervix cleaned, which was cold. Then a small catheter was inserted and radioactive dye slowly squeezed into my uterus. This was uncomfortable (you forget to breathe) but now awful. Then the radiologist had me move my hips to the left and then right and a few other angles, while the nurse moved the x-ray machine above me to take pictures. I could clearly see my uterus on the monitor during the process.

I then had to go to the bathroom and pee out the dye, which is clear and a bit sticky. I had to use a pad for several hours, for the residue dye and for slight spotting. I had no pain after the procedure and felt just fine. The entire process, once I was on the table until I had to go pee out the dye, was less than 15 minutes.”

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