Infertility in woman
A compete medical history and physical examination is the first step undertaken to investigate the cause of infertility. Menstrual history, family history of infertility and sexual factors are examined. Blood and urine tests to determine hormonal levels, prolactin levels, hyperthyroidism and diabetes are taken to evaluate the possible causes of infertility. Hormonal imbalances are sometimes caused by pituitary gland tumors.
Blocked fallopian tubes do not allow the egg to travel to the uterus and can be a cause for infertility. One of the primary tests for detecting infertility in women is to check whether she is ovulating correctly. This can be done by monitoring body temperature and checking the texture of the cervical mucus.
Hysterosalpingogram: In this test for checking the infertility of women, an x-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus is taken after they are injected with dye. The x-ray displays the shape of the uterus and the state of the fallopian tubes. This diagnostic test is also useful in diagnosing conditions such as endometrial polyps, fibroid tumors and structural abnormalities of the uterus or fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopy: This is a test for checking the fallopian tubes and other female reproductive organs for disease. Chromosomal tests are conducted to detect sperm abnormalities and other abnormal patterns in the man and woman.
Endometriosis affects nearly 10% of women during their reproductive years and is a major cause for infertility. This gynecological condition occurs when the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. The endometrium then grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and outer surface of the uterus and even sometimes on the bladder, bowel, intestines, colon, vagina, cesarean and laparoscopy scars. This endometrial growth does not get regularly sloughed off with the menstrual cycle and keeps building up to form ovarian cysts. In fact endometriosis can even cause distortion of a woman's internal anatomy. While the theory of retrograde menstruation holds that some menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and grows there, it is not yet fully substantiated yet. Some women have a genetic predisposition to endometriosis. The role of immune system dysfunction and environmental influence on endometriosis is also being studied.
Severe pelvic pain is the characteristic symptom associated with endometriosis. This pain is felt while passing urine, during sexual intercourse and during ovulation. A woman suffering from endometriosis may notice heavy irregular bleeding and abdominal bloating. Infertility is noticed in more than 40% of women suffering from endometriosis. A pelvic examination is conducted on a woman complaining of symptoms of endometriosis. It can reveal the presence of tender nodules in the ovary regions or the posterior vaginal wall. Pelvic ultrasound is used to locate endometriosis areas. Laparoscopy can aid in checking pelvic organs for endometrial tissue. It gives a clear idea of the extent and location of endometriosis.
Hormone therapy is advocated by some as treatment against endometriosis. Birth control pills or progestins are often prescribed. This may help in tempering the estrogen production and relieving some of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis. Progesterone pills or injections can be used to treat endometriosis. The drug Danazol is also sometimes prescribed. Anti-gonodotropins produce a psedomenopausal state and can relieve some of the problems associated with endometriosis. But treatment of endometriosis with drugs is limited to about six months or so to prevent a detrimental effect on bone density. Laparoscopic surgery is yet another endometriosis treatment advocated by some doctors. The surgeon aims at removing all endometriosis lesions, cysts and adhesions. This is done is severe cases of endometriosis and infertility.
A Hysterosalpingogram or hsg is a diagnostic x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test allows the gynecologist to observe the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes for any problems such as blockage of fallopian tubes, endometrial polyps, fibroids, genital tuberculosis or abnormalities in the uterine cavity. Hysterosalpingogram is also done to find problems in the uterus, such as abnormal shape and structure, an injury, adhesions or a foreign body in the uterus. HSG is often used in cases where a sterilization reversal is sought.
A woman must inform the radiologist if she is allergic to iodine dye, suffer pelvic or sexually transmitted disease. Women with bleeding problems such as hemophilia or those on blood thinning medicines such as aspirin must keep the doctor appraised. The gynecologist or radiologist uses a cannula to fill the uterus with iodine. The dye will flow into the fallopian tubes as the uterus is hooked with these tubes, and the pictures are taken using high steady beam fluoroscopy, as the dye passes through. In case of injury or an abnormal structure, the picture can throw up the problems. The pictures are shown on a TV monitor during the test. If another view is needs, the examination table is tilted or the patient may be asked to change positions. A blockage can prevent sperm from moving into the fallopian tube and joining an egg for fertilization to occur.
A HSG can catch if there is any problem inside her uterus that possibly prevents a fertilized egg from implanting to the uterine wall. This helps in outlining the fallopian tubes so that any abnormalities in the tubes or uterine cavity is observed. In cases of infertility due to tubal blockage, HSG is used to evaluate the location and extent of blockage. The Hysterosalpingogram procedure takes a few minutes and can be moderately uncomfortable for the woman, with possibility of cramps. Women who have tubal disease may develop pelvic infection. In rare cases, the woman develops iodine allergy. Some women notice spotting for a couple of days after the HSG.
Risks of Hysterosalpingogram
In less than 1 in 100, there may be a chance of a pelvic infection after the test. The chances are higher in those who have had pelvic infections before. Antibiotics A negligible chance of damaging or puncturing the uterus or fallopian tubes during the test does exist during the test. There could be some allergic reaction to the iodine x ray dye. If oil based dye is used, the oil can leak into the blood. This can cause blockage of blood flow to a section of the lung. But most HSG tests are water based. A woman may feel some cramping similar to menstrual cramps during the procedure and the amount of pain may depend upon the problems that the doctor finds and treats during the test. There could be some vaginal bleeding for several days after the test.
The test result is considered normal if the injected dye spills freely out from the ends of the fallopian tube and the x ray shows normal uterine shape. However, if further tests do not reveal the cause of infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, the doctor could order for a hysteroscopy. There are chances that while a HSG could show a normal uterine shape, a hysteroscopy show abnormalities.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: January 16, 2019