Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): How Painful Is It?

October 24th, 2007
Posted By:

Insect on Leaf (c) Lynda Bernhardt

What is a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)? Fertilitycommunity.com defines the test as follows:

HSG is a test used primarily to determine if a woman’s fallopian tubes are open or blocked. HSG also gives some idea as to the integrity (condition) of the endometrial cavity (uterine interior.) It is known as the most uncomfortable of diagnostic procedures for females. – Hysterosalpingogram or HSG

So, how “uncomfortable” is the test?

When my doctor told me I needed to have this test done, he said that I would experience discomfort but that the test would not be painful. He said that if my tubes were blocked, I would feel no pain, so discomfort would actually be a good thing. He really downplayed how big of a deal this would be.

When my doctor stepped out of the room, the nurse told me that some women find the test to be rather painful, so she suggested that I take four Advils one hour before the test. That way, I would have some form of pain medication in my body to alleviate the pain. I figured that it must not be too bad if all I needed was over-the-counter medication to endure it. Just to be on the safe side, I brought my sister along to the hospital with me so that she could drive me home if I did not feel up to it myself.

The test itself was not comfortable but also not too terribly painful for me. I had taken the day off work in case I was in too much pain that afternoon. I felt well enough to drive myself home, so my sister and I had a blast that afternoon watching a movie together. Overall, I remember the test being uncomfortable but not that big of a deal.

I talked with a man whose wife was fearful about having an HSG performed. I told him about my experience, and he passed the information along to his wife. The next time I saw him, I asked how the test went. He relayed a message from his wife: “That woman is crazy!!” She found the test to be quite painful and spent the rest of the day feeling poorly.

I have another friend who had the same test performed. Her experience was more like this other woman’s than mine. However, I also think that giving blood is no big deal while this friend of mine found it to be a painful experience.

Why was my experience different? I do not know for sure. Different people seem to have different levels of pain tolerance. I get weekly allergy shots, so shots are not a big deal to me. I joke that I am a walking pin cushion because I have had so many shots in my life. I do not even consider shots to be painful because I am so used to having them. However, other people would vehemently disagree, with my six-year-old son being at the top of the list!

So, I believe that your own level of pain tolerance will factor into how painful this test will be. Err on the side of caution and take the day off work. If it winds up not being a big deal, you can enjoy a well-deserved break.

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5 Responses to “Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): How Painful Is It?”

  1. BlessYouAngel Says:

    Thanks for the details on the procedure.

    I just had mine on Tuesday, I wasn’t at all worried, took my antibiotics the night and morning before, and took some painkillers 30 minutes before the exam.

    But how painful was it!! I have never felt pain like that before, yes be it short-lived. When he asked me to move to the right, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t think what my right was. I couldn’t imagine over the counter drugs numbing that pain. I didn’t even see the screen, I was just concentrating on getting it done.

    And like you, I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance.

    Afterwards the doctor did an ultrasound, and then I bled a lot, first a rush of blood on the doctors bench, then bleeding that day and the morning after. So make sure to bring a pad.

    The whole experience felt so violent and it was like a shock to my system, but I did return to work afterwards, the rest of the day felt like I’d period pains etc.

    Anyway the good news is he said everything looked perfect down there, no blockages etc..

    I guess everyone’s body is different, that is why infertility affects people in different ways and can be such an unknown.

    Don’t be nervous after reading this, I think the majority of people find it ok, and maybe I am in the minority. At least if you do feel alot of pain, it is short-lived.

    Best wishes to all you ladies

  2. rana Says:

    i wanna share my experience , ive been trying to get pregnant for about 8 months now, my doctor said that i had late ovulation so she put me on clomid for 4 months & duphaston as well as choriomon but with no luck, then she changed me into femara last month and asked me to do an HSG, by far it was the worst experience i have ever had!!! the pain was really unbarable,first the doctor spent 10 minutes trying to insert the speculum which was the begining of my pain, then when she injected the dye it was a pain that ive never experienced and when i got home the pain was persistant for the whole day,contineous cramping and i couldent even pee coz it was painful, and i also had fever for a short period so i took an antibiotic for that fearing from infection, anyway my tubes were perfectly open with no blockage and now im wondoring what to do else since nothing is wrong with me!! and my husband did his sperm test and it was ok, so anyone knows what the next step should be coz i really wanna have a baby so bad :(

  3. cgarcia Says:

    I just read this post and frankly pain tolerance has nothing to do with it. I also have no problem with getting my blood drawn or getting shots etc. I had two wisdom teeth pulled at the same time and later experience little if any pain, but my HSG was a nightmare. I could not believe the pain I was in. It was simply horrible. It was the most pain I had every experienced. I literally was surprised at my reaction. I really did not think I was going to be in pain. I thought perhaps be uncomfortable, but not in so much pain that I thought I would faint. I really did think I was going to faint. The pain was huge. I think people are extremely different and it might be extremely painful for one person but not for another, so it’s not about pain tolerance. It’s the luck of the draw. Good luck to anyone getting this done. I hope you are one that does not feel much if any pain.

  4. paperchase125 Says:

    I’m a total wimp, so I delayed undergoing the HSG exam because I’d been reading various blogs and was terrified because of the answers I read there. I finally mustered up the courage to go in this morning, and it was not bad at all. I took 2 Advil pills an hour prior to the exam, and felt minor cramping when the doctor injected the dye. The cramps felt similar to period cramps. The cramps lasted for less than a minute, and the entire procedure took less than 5 minutes. But before the exam took place, I was asking everyone at the lab whether it was painful, how long the pain would last, what kinds of complications they’d seen. They could see the fear in my eyes, and reassured me that it was less painful than giving birth, and that although every woman’s experience is different, most feel very little pain. My fear level was very, very high going into the exam. But after the exam, I went out to eat lunch and went back to work. The fear was worse than the actual procedure.

  5. mrs.hall Says:

    Hello, I had my HSG done today. Honestly, I would agree its just luck of the draw when it comes to pain. I went in feeling like it wasnt going to be any worse than “discomfort”. No such luck. Literally one of the more painful things I have experienced. I am a nationally certified phlebotomists so I had my blood drawn more times than I can count in school. I dont have a low pain tolerance. The good thing is that it is quick and the pain goes away within a few hours. I wasnt ok to drive and was nauseous from the pain. I found out that my right tube is blocked so, it was worth it to know what is going on in m body. But dont walk in unprepared for pain like I was. I highly recommend some ibuprofen or some kind of pain medication before you even go in. Best of luck to you ladies!

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