emale Fertility Test: Sono-Hysterogram

Undergoing specific fertility tests can help specialists determine some of the causes of infertility that a couple who is trying to conceive may be experiencing. A sonohysterogram (SHG) is one such female fertility test that can provide insight into the female reproductive system and identify any fertility problems that may be posing a barrier along the path to getting pregnant.

What is a Sonohysterogram?

A sonohysterogram, also known as a hysterosonogram (HSN), is one of several fertility tests - such as an hysterosalpingogram (HSG) - aimed at assessing the state of the female reproductive system and identifying any abnormalities. More specifically, a sonohysterogram is an ultrasound that screens for any uterine abnormalities involving the shape of the uterus that may be hindering fertility. Occasionally, a sonohysterogram will also be used to determine whether or not the fallopian tubes are open.

A sonohysterogram is considered a safer and more accurate detector of uterine abnormalities than a regular ultrasound, since it uses a sterile fluid to fill up the uterus, causing the upper and lower walls to separate, thus allowing any abnormalities to become more apparent. A sonohysterogram also presents a less intrusive fertility testing method than a traditional hysteroscopy, which involves an out-patient surgical procedure in which a telescope is used to view inside the uterus.

The Sonohysterogram Procedure: How it is Done

A sonohysterogram procedure will be performed in a healthcare provider’s office most likely during the first week following the last day of a woman’s menstrual period, but prior to ovulation. This is done so as to avoid any damage or dislodging of a released egg or embryo in the uterus. This also ensures that the lining of the uterus is very thin, allowing for more accuracy. An SHG should never be performed if there is a chance that a woman is pregnant.

The sonohysterogram procedure begins when a soft, flexible catheter or tube is inserted into the cervix. An ultrasound probe will then be placed into the vagina, followed by an injection of a saline (salt-water) solution into the uterus. This saline fluid will allow your healthcare provider to comprehensively view the shape of the uterus.

During an SHG, the catheter probe can be rotated inside the body to view all angles of the uterus.

SHG Symptoms or Discomfort

Some women report experiencing mild to moderate cramping when undergoing this fertility test. It may be appropriate to take ibuprofen tablets approximately an hour prior to the procedure in order to minimize this discomfort. Speak to your doctor prior to taking any medications in preparation for a sonohysterogram.

Other symptoms and potential risks or side effects of a sonohysterogram fertility test include the following:

  • slight discomfort during or after the procedure
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • allergic reaction to color dye which may be used
  • slight leakage of the saline solution

It is recommended that a patient wear a panty liner or tampon for the rest of the day following a sonohysterogram to minimize some of these discomforts.

Fertility Diagnosis

Studies have shown that a sonohysterogram or hysterosonogram can detect over 90% of uterine abnormalities. For this reason, sonohysterograms are often used in the process of diagnosing fertility problems in women trying to conceive. A sonohysterogram can detect many medical conditions that may be the causes of infertility in women including the following:

  • polyps
  • fibroids
  • scarring
  • uterine septum
  • bicornuate uterus

A sonohysterogram may be recommended for women experiencing multiple miscarriages or abnormal vaginal bleeding. If uterine abnormalities are found following a sonohysterogram fertility test, a doctor may recommend further testing or fertility treatments such as a hysteroscopy, laparoscopy or tubal surgery.

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