May 09

When you start your fertility journey, your first test becomes the Hysterosalpingogram, or HSG procedure. During this test, the doctor fills the uterine cavity with dye to determine if the fallopian tubes are open or blocked (in other words, the evil doctor shoves a speculum into your lady part, pokes at your cervix and then pours dye down your tubes while you cringe and spasm with cramps. And it’s not some type of cool rainbow colored tie dye or a nice alcoholic liquid either. It’s a radioactive, vagina unfriendly drink).

Do NOT google this procedure. The Hysterosalpingogram is not internet friendly. You will read horror stories about women who had painful experiences from extreme cramping to fainting, and these stories will scare to your very core. “Mindy-Sue from says: “My HSG test was the worst pain of my life. It was like having my bikini waxed, one hair at a time” and Fallopia-Anne from says: “My fallopian tube actually fell out of my body during the procedure.” But no offense, infertile friend, if you google “hysterosalpingogram, is it painful” do you expect to find a good answer? The internet will never tell you, ‘oh no, it was a gentle and fun procedure’ when you ask a question like that. Stop asking google already. Google probably secretly pays their employees to scare other fertility patients.

Just relax already. You know, so it will just… happen.

(note: the author of this blog had her HSG test done and it felt like a mild cramp that disappeared in 5 minutes).

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50 Responses to “#763 Hysterosalpingogram: Sure, you can pour liquid down my fallopian tubes”

  1. Amanda says:

    I just want to back you up on it. Although there are lots of painful stories, my HSG was very simple. I took ibuprofen beforehand and I had little pain associated with it. A few cramps lingered that evening and the next day, but they weren’t terrible. The worst part is just having so many people looking at your lady parts (there was even a med student in the room).

  2. Lisa says:

    The title of this post made me CRINGE. Took me three tries to get my friggin’ HSG completed. Only to find out that my tubes are blocked. I swear to all that is holy, the HSG was NOT simple and painless. Although, I have since learned that some REs do this procedure in their office, which CAN ONLY be better than having to hold your legs up for 45 minutes on one of those horrific x-ray tables at the hospital.

    Okay. I need a drink.

  3. says:

    Had to laugh at this one. Just had my second HSG done last week. First one wasn’t so bad last year…but not great by any imagination. It of course hurt! Even worse however, was the emotional wreck I became when they told us both tubes blocked.

    After a year of seeing a plumber I got to repeat the procedure. This time however, I forgot to take the valium so the doctor gave me a “pill” right before the procedure.

    Need to follow up and ask what that “pill” was because it put me in a drunken stupor and made me sleep solid for 18 straight hours.

    I’d like a refill.

  4. Rebecca says:

    All I can say is ymmv.

  5. says:

    Mine was absolutely terrible- and I like to think I have a high pain tolerance. I wish I would have had some IV pain meds. But in the end, I’m glad it was done- it’s nice to get answers.

  6. misty says:

    I had my HSG 6 years ago before I relied on Dr. Google for everything fertility related. My doctor told me it was a little uncomfortable, so I drove myself. It was so painful I almost passed out and had to sit on a bench at the hospital for 20 minutes before I could drive myself home. I’m so grateful my new doc is a fellow infertile.

  7. Em says:

    The doctor said sometimes it helps distract people to follow along on the screen to see what’s going on.

    It made me seasick to look at the weird x-ray images upside down while laying on the table…which distracted me from the mild cramps that only lasted for about 15 minutes afterward.

    And when I was done, i had a flashback of my 10th grade gym teacher telling me “Walk it off!” after i got hit in the boob with a volleyball.

    I did walk it off. And it helped.

  8. Stolen Eggs says:

    Mine was the most painful thing I’ve ever had done. Hands down. No contest. I cried. And I don’t cry. Or at least I didn’t used to.

  9. says:


    I actually did almost faint after my HSG, and it was pretty damn uncomfortable though my tubes were wide open. But, I survived! And I agree, never ask Dr. Google about these things!!!

  10. Marci says:

    Mine was dreadful. I wimpered the whole time because it hurt, but I didn’t feel comfortable screaming. When I stood up, I had to be helped by my husband to the changing room because I could barely stand. There was blood everywhere. My husband was pale as a ghost and looked utterly sick and horrified. He looked as bad as I felt.

    While I was getting dressed, I just burst into hysterical tears for like 10 minutes, I couldn’t control them and I couldn’t stand while crying. I ended up sort of leaning against a sick, half dressed. And then on the way to car, another crying jag. Two more on the way home. I worked at home for the afternoon and only had two more crying jags after that, but the horror has remained present.

    Although, I have heard from other people that theirs wasn’t bad. I’ve made a practice not to tell people about my experience when they ask. I say, “I’ve heard it isn’t bad, but I do suggest you take some pain killers about an hour before the procedure, and a driver to help you home, just in case it doesn’t go well.”

  11. camille says:

    I had mine done a few years ago. I took a few Advils before hand, and didn’t find I had any kinds of cramps afterwards. Just a little uncomfortable, especially when they “clamp” into your cervix.

    Of course, it DID help that my Gyno/RE was the one who conducted the HSG and she was super gentle and encouraging through it all, telling me to take deep breaths at certain points.

  12. Oh crap. Hopefully this post didn’t further scare any other infertiles out there. Mine was okay, I promise! No fainting or screaming.

  13. says:

    I got “lucky” I guess… I had my HSG while I was already asleep for my laparoscopy. Now the recovery and pain from that was pretty bad! Totally worth it though! I just had to keep reminding myself that a procedure or surgery will hurt, but not as much as my infertility.

  14. Andrea says:

    My HSG didn’t hurt either – just a tiny bit of cramping. I full agree on not googling some things – espcecially when it comes to pain related questions. Nobody ever reports GOOD stuff so of course you’ll always find the horror stories.

  15. says:

    Everyone is different. I heard from 2 friends that it was 2 different things altogether. Mine was horrendous, compounded by the fact that I was alone, and found out about my tubal blockages. SCREW that. It is not something I will EVER laugh about, I guarantee that. And I do have a high pain tolerance….multiple tats and piercings for the FUN of it. Too bad it’s not simple for everyone.

  16. EMC says:

    I actually just had mine done today! Great timing on this post. Took ibuprofen before – hurt a lot when they first got in there, but not too bad once they started actually doing the imaging. Have some cramps, but the good news is that my lady parts are completely normal!

  17. says:

    MY HSG totally sucked!!! It was like a knife got stuck in my uterus and my uterus had a giant charlie horse that lasted a minute. I felt my face get white and I thought I was going to pass out from pain…. It was definitely the worst procedure I’ve had, infertility-wise.

  18. says:

    My HSG was great, my doc was extremely gentle and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Mild cramping and then “poof” it was done.

  19. says:

    WOW, I am so glad I didn’t read any of these comments before my HSG test. They would have scared the crap out of me. Yes it was uncomfortable, and yes it hurt, but mine was nothing like anyone is saying. I know we are all different, but seriously! If you can’t handle this, how will you be able to handle child birth one day?!?! I’m not gonna lie, I was in pain, but it felt EXACTLY like my bad menstrual cramps feel every month.

  20. Natalie says:

    My first HSG wasn’t too painful, just a little uncomfortable nothing like the horror stories I had read but it showed both tubes as blocked, my second hsg I couldn’t even walk after, I spent 4 hours vomiting, sweating and crying in pain and I’d had 4 shots of local anastetic (directly into cervix – ouchies) I had cramps for four days afterwards and couldn’t move from my sofa much but the dye did go through my left tube on the second one so it may have hurt so bady because they burst scar tissue.

    The point is I’ve had two HSG’s and one didn’t hurt really and the second one was agony, I think it depends what is going on with your tubes and uterus and how easy it is to manipulate your cervix etc, it isn’t like having a tooth out which is x amount of pain, the amount of pain varies and depends on a lot of different factors, no matter how much it will or won’t hurt getting stressed doesn’t help and google is never good – guilty of doing that myself and being terrified the first time and feeling stupid for worrying so much afterwards, even though the second hsg hurt it was worth it to see the dye go through one tube at least :)

  21. says:

    Sadly, my HSG was one of those painful ones (I didn’t know what to expect as it was scheduled on the same day as a FS appointment and didn’t have much time to think about it). Despite taking a couple of Naprogesic before the procedure, I still remember the nurse having to hold my legs a little while I was shaking. Since I was still bleeding on my period, I as embarrassed as well as being in pain.

    I second Stacie’s comment though – it felt exactly like bad menstrual cramps (they just seem more severe because they come on suddenly instead of gradually like traditional cramps. If I have to have the procedure again, I now know what to expect and can brace for it).

    Kudos to those women who say it wasn’t too painful/uncomfortable, I applaud you!

  22. Where's my BFP? says:

    My HSG test didnt go as a normal one should. I went on a Wed for my first HSG test and my body was not in the mood after a number of doctors coming in with my legs spread to the world they couldnt get it to work. So Thur. they told me to come back (the very next day) they wanted to try again like they didnt have fun enough. They tried again calling in two doctors and 4 people that were just learning to watch how things go. They even went so far at to use a long metal rod to hold things open to get the cath. in didnt work after an hour of this they gave up. My third HSG test was the next day with my doc and I told them what had gone on after 30 mins he finally got it to work with no much good news one side is blocked. But in the light of all the hell they put me through and all those people that have seen my lady parts now I was in a little pain but all I kept thinking about was this is for my future baby they nurses where suprised I handled it so well. Only if they knew if it wasnt to help get pregnant I would have punched them all in the

  23. Dana says:

    I describe mine as “a weeks worth of menstral cramps in 25 seconds or less”… so it was painful, but it didn’t last long. But, I forgot to take my advil beforehand. :(

  24. Natalie says:

    I had one a few months ago. I took some med. before and after. DH drove me but I ended up feeling fine. I had some cramping during it and a little blood right afterwards. I had a postcoital while jacked up on Clomid that was actually much worse, prob because the nurse wasn’t as experienced with the (razor blade edged feeling) speculum. All that BS finally paid off and none of the past procedures has been as bad as dental work with ” pregnancy approved anesthetic” which is practically useless.

  25. Vanessa says:

    I got my HSG done about three weeks ago and it was one of the most painful things I have ever done. If you ever watch the show “24,” there is a “professional torturer” on there who has a little suitcase with syringes, each more painful than the other. I honestly felt like I was being tortured. I took Aleve, Tylenol, 1/2 a Xanax, and codeine beforehand. Had I known how much it would hurt, I would have taken 3 Xanax, 1 or 2 Vicodin, and a bottle of rum. I wish someone had warned me how bad it would (could) be ahead of time.

  26. Carolyn says:

    Mine was uncomfortable, a bit strange, but not painful. It was kinda like cramps, but with a tube shoved through my cervix… :-)

    Sorry to hear all the horror stories!!

    I also wanted to make one correction, InfertileNaomi, if you don’t mind. The dye is iodine, non-radioactive. It’s the x-rays that give you radiation dose, but once they stop taking pictures, there’s no lingering radiation. FYI.

  27. Sara says:

    My laparascopy hurt like hell but not my HSG!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  28. Gwen says:

    First of all STACIE! You can back the F- up! Let me tell you. . . I have HAD a child, I have broken my wrist twice, the second time, I waited in the waiting room for 5 hours before I saw a doctor and got ANY pain medication, my bone was coming out of my arm, and had 8 screws and 2 plates in to fix it. . . .

    The broken wrists were comparable pain to MY HSG! My labor was NOTHING compared to MY HSG. . . . ALL HSG’s are different, and LET ME TELL YOU. . . mine was NOT like bad menstrual cramps, mine was almost pass out from the pain during the procedure AND for a 1/2 hour AFTERWARDS!

    Not EVERYONE has this much pain it sounds like, but SOME PEOPLE DO, so don’t discredit the people who said it HURTS LIKE A BITCH!!!!!

  29. Er says:

    My hsg did hurt, and I have a very high tolerance for pain (I’ve had numerous abdominal surgeries)! I didn’t get to the point of passing out (kudos to all you ladies who endured that!), but it was WAY worse than menstrual cramps. Both of my tubes are blocked – I think this makes a big difference in the pain level, keep that in mind.

  30. KJEF says:

    I had my HSG today and actually passed out from the pain! I made it through the procedure ok, but as soon as my RE finished, I told her I didn’t feel good and that I was going to pass out. And, I did. IThe nurse had to help me get dressed and move me to a reclining chair. Gave me a cold cloth for my head and some ginger ale. Felt like I was going to pass out again and also throw -up. They had me sit in the office for about an hour. Thankfully, my husband came with me, so he could drive me home and get me all settled on the couh. It’s now 6 hours after it and I’m still feling shaky, crampy and wobbly. Not fun at al!

  31. Sherry says:

    Just had my HSG today and just like KJEF, I passed out before the procedure finished. I’ve never experienced fainting or passing out before. I asked the radiologist and his assistant what happened and they said, had I been unconscious any longer, they would have called 911. I actually went to a radiology center so they’re experienced in doing these things. Good thing I did not google too much about this, otherwise I would have chickened out. They had me stay at the nurse’s station just until I’m able to walk again. I felt like throwing up since then and I only felt better when I actually did when I got home. Only consolation is that my tubes are perfectly fine because I do not want to go through with it again.

  32. Marci says:

    Mine was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life (Including giving birth) and both my tubes were open.

    I actually screamed at my doctor and told him that he should be giving anesthetic when doing the procedure just like a dentist gives Novocain when pulling a tooth.


    Seriously, it was excruciating for me and it felt like I was being tortured. I can’t begin to imagine what it would have felt like if my tubes were blocked.

    The pain was not due to cramping, it was due to not being able to put the catheter straight through the cervix.

    It pisses me off that pain reliever is recommended before hand because they KNOW it hurts, and yet they don’t feel the need to try to prevent the pain for their patients. I feel it’s inhumane.
    It is not my intention to scare anyone- but learn from other’s experiences and INSIST that your doctor gives you some kind of anesthetic for this. (You wouldn’t let a person pull out your tooth without something would you?? -even if he/she was a good dentist.)

  33. Lisa says:

    I should not have read this… I’m getting an HSG done this cycle. YIKES!!!
    The only thing is, I had Mirena put in and experienced what a lot of you are mentioning. I almost passed out, I threw up and I had really bad cramps.
    I wonder if it hurts the same as that? I don’t think knowing that I survived similar pain once will be any help here… yikes.

  34. granolablonde says:

    Hey Infertile Naomi, maybe your doc didn’t do this, but mine did – and is this normal??? He literally had a small scrub brush and some dish soap that he used to “clean me out” with before the procedure. That alone made me vomit, then pass out. I was not able to complete the darn x-ray! But *apparently* it doesn’t matter because *apparently* I still ovulate, since I am getting AF every month… (yeah, right)

  35. Wendy says:

    My HSG was so very painful I thought I was dying. The doctor was a tiny Asian man continually repeating “I sorry…I sorry…almost done…I sorry”…that was a little bit helpful. As soon as I stood up, the pain was gone. I did stand hobbled over for a while afterwards, but there was no residual pain.

  36. Sylvia says:

    Well, I DID google the HSG in advance and I got really, really frightened – but mine didn’t hurt at all! I was in and out of the clinic in fifteen minutes. Plus, my tubes were free which, combined with the painkiller they gave me, made me kind of high :-)

  37. AB says:

    I had a very bad experience…I will never do it again. I had my HSG this past week. Going into the test I did not know very much about it. The test was done at my local hospital radiology center. During the test, the doctor could not get the catheter into my cervix because she said the opening was too small and she did not have the proper tools (this was after trying for over 30 minutes)…at this point I just thought it was painful…

    I was told it was normal and that when this happens, they send the patients to their obgyn to insert the catheter and then come back to have the test done with the catheter already inserted. The next day I arrived at my obgyn for him to insert the catheter and then I would drive myself to the hospital for the test. As I was up on the table he also was having difficulty. He said that he was going to numb my cervix to insert the catheter…he told me to take a deep cough. THAT WAS A MISTAKE! OH MY GOD AT THE PAIN!!!!! He got the catheter inserted, but I was in terrible pain. His part was over. He taped the bottom part to my leg and advised me to go straight to the hospital and not waste time because of the cramping. He left the room and as I gathered my things, I started to feel light-headed. I walked out of the room and saw the nurse. By that time I was practically falling into her arms because I could not stand up. I was sweating really bad and started seeing spots. They quickly carried me to a room and laid me down. In the room my arms and legs became tingly and numb and I couldn’t move them….AND don’t forget the excruciating pain in my abdomen!!! The pain was soooooo bad that I asked the doctor to take out the catheter. Long story short, he did and I was unable to complete the test at the hospital.

    I want to have children, but that test was NOT worth what I went through, and I didn’t even do the dye part (which I’ve heard is even more painful). It was the worst pain I have ever experienced!

  38. Tina says:

    I just had an HSG done last Thursday. I have read through some of your stories. I am 36 years old and want a baby more than anything in the world right now. I’m already an emotional wreck before my test because I already knew in my heart after three years of trying after a horrible miscarriage what my answer would be. The HSG was the most painful horrible procedure ever. I was screaming so loud I think the whole building heard me. I cried for 20 minutes after. After that I was physically and emotionally a wreck. Both tubes are blocked. The Radiologist had to go in twice because I popped the catheter out. NEVER ever will I do the HSG again… You will have to put me out first..

  39. says:

    I had my HSG done yesterday, and can honestly say it felt NOTHING like my monthly cramps. I have had such severe menstrual cramps that I have passed out upon trying to stand. This pain was different; sharper, more horrible, and in a deeper part of me than my menstrual cramps. I had an amazingly sweet radiologist, who took really good care of me, but even with the Advil and Xanax I took to relax beforehand, I still had to fight to hold back the tears. It was terribly painful, but thankfully short, and all I could think throughout was, “please get it out, get it out!” Afterward, I was shaky on my feet and very glad my husband was there to take me home. I cramped mildly through the car ride home, and then felt much better after a two hour nap.

    The pain is definitely different for everyone. Even my radiologist mentioned, mid-exam, that if I was already in so much pain just from the catheter entering my cervix, that once she opened the little bubble thing in my uterus it would be very bad, and she apologized in advance. :(

  40. Nichole says:

    I had my HSG today. My doctor and nurses were so sweet and gentle but I’m not going to lie, it was painful. The doctor gave me a shot in my cervix to numb me and then inserted the catheter. Unfortunately, it fell out and I had to start all over again. It was crampy (but I usually have pretty painful periods so the cramps weren’t too bad). I almost passed out after the test and I really felt like throwing up. I had fits of crying for hours afterward but it might be partly from the results.

  41. jdfan14 says:

    Mine was semi painful…worst was inserting of the catheter, guess was pretty lucky to not have severe pains but was really not fun either. I hope to never do it again though. I actually knew one of the nurses (good family friend) she was very professional and helpful. If was not for her reassurance and talking me throught I think would have been worse. My RE actually switched doctors after my HSG and mock transfer, he told me at that meeting that he does not even recommend HSG’s b/c of the pain. I was suprised when he told me that…too bad I did not have him before my test…he he he. Sorry for those that had extremly bad experiences!

  42. Sara says:

    My uterine biopsy was way worse than the HSG. The HSG was nerve racking because I didn’t know what to expect and heard horror stories about severe pain if your tubes were blocked. Thankfully, both of my tubes are open so the cramping only last a minute or two during the procedure and was mild afterward. Overall, the anxiety was worse than the pain in my case. As for avoiding the urge to google everything, some days are better than others. I will say that it is nice to find people that are going through the same things, especially when it seems like everyone in your life is easily expecting.

  43. LaLa says:

    The only way to describe my HSG is “that sh*t F’n hurt!” The only thing my doctor told me about the procedure was that it would feel like menstrual cramps, which for me have never really been a painful process. No warning about taking a pain killers, nothing. I started googling while waiting for the procedure as they were delayed and then the fear of reading the stories set in. The first balloon they put in, no problem, but apparently one of my tubes didnt quite let the dye out. So they decided to use a bigger balloon, and that did the trick, heck my fallopian tube spasmed it was so freaked out. The pain was excruciating, and I have never felt anything as painful, not even child birth. I started crying during the procedure, all the while the tech was saying, just a little bit more, just a little bit more, and can you move to the left, and now to the right…. My girly parts were so traumatized after the experience i couldn’t have sex for a month, not good for when you’re trying to make a baby.

  44. G says:

    I just found this website and am glad to see there can be a lighter side to this infertility struggle (I have been laughing at these posts for hours now!)

    I was SO terrified of my HSG before I got it–of course I googled it and literally EVERY experience I read about said it was the most horribly excruciating pain they have ever been through. One lady even said that is was worse pain than giving birth!!! I almost didn’t show up to my appointment the next day. It turned out to be fine (just some mild cramping like the author said).

  45. Jess says:

    I had an hsg done today…I hardly even cramped. It was not bad at all.

  46. Stef says:

    I had this lovely procedure done today. I was VERY painful. Not similar to menstrual cramps for me, which I have each month and are painful in themselves. This was much, much more severe and did make me cry during the pain. Luckily it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. The scariest part is being asked to rotate your lower body to the left or right side while the doctor is still working in there. I was so scared it would make it hurt worse. Luckily the extreme pain didn’t get even worse. The nice thing is that once they are done, the pain subsided for me right away. Oh the things we go through for babies!

  47. Stef says:

    One other note…I took 3 200 mg ibuprofen tablets and a valium before the procedure and still had some serious pain. Do yourself a favor and ask the doctor for a prescription pain medication.

  48. Neene says:

    A friend sent me this link. I had an HSG done in 2006. I was advised to take some meds before hand. I did, and I had some cramping just like a period as they injected the dye. Within about 10 minutes I was done and on my way. I experienced no discomfort after the procedure and all in all it wasn’t a big deal. Granted, I don’t want to ever have to do it again and I won’t have to…
    I just think it effects each woman differently. I will say this…when I was pregnant and they wanted to check if I was dilated hurt WAY more than the HSG and when they had to put a probe on my baby’s head vaginally, well that hurt more than the HSG, dilation check COMBINED. So, just sayin’ it’s not that bad for everybody. :)

  49. Stace says:

    I am surprised to read how painful this procedure has been for people. I had one done about 10 years ago, and then one done yesterday. Neither were painful at all for me. It felt similar to mild menstrual cramps… no big deal. The worst part for the one I had years ago, was that there were so many people present in the room… which I thought was strange… and I bled a lot more than I did after yesterday’s procedure. Yesterday, only had my doctor, the radiologist and an intern present… and I had very little spotting afterwards. I took 3 advil about an hour prior to the procedure… and it took about 8 minutes from start to finish. The commute to the appointment was WAY more painful than the medical procedure! Ha! :)

  50. tracy says:

    i just had my HSG yesterday and it was a little painful, though i took some spasfon because i live in france and they opened my vagina but when the doctor inserted the catheter,it was a whole lot very uncomfortable and crampy, i had to break down to tears! and all the while the second doctor kept whispering dont move, dont move, which also got me really annoyed, at last the result came out and they said i was fine and both tubes are okay and everything was normal else i would have launched a punch on the doctor’s face! …; lol