Sonohysterography… F^@&ing Hurts

Like many others who have made it this far in the infertility journey, I’ve had my nether regions poked and prodded too many times to count. I tried counting; I even suggested to the RE nurses and ultrasound techs that they should implement a punch card system to reward repeat customers. No one else thought it was as funny as I did. Clearly, there is a serious lack of a sense of humor in the medical community around here. Not to mention a lack of creativity when it comes to marketing and customer service. (They don’t have to give away free ultrasounds. I’d settle for a free martini. Or even a hug.)


Today’s invasion of my lady bits took the form of a sonohysterography (SHG), or saline sonogram, during which a radiologist pumped my uterus full of saline while an ultrasound tech took pictures. The objective was to evaluate the inside of my uterus for potential problems, like fibroids or polyps. There was no reason to think there might be a problem, but my RE wanted to be absolutely sure before she transfers any embryos. Can’t argue with that reasoning!

To be completely honest, this test fucking hurt. A lot. I had an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) about a year and a half ago, and everyone said it would be really painful, but it wasn’t. It hurt like hell for about a minute, but it wasn’t more than I could handle and it didn’t last. The SHG, however, hurt like a mother effing alien trying to rip its way out of my uterus. The worst of it lasted just one or two minutes (one or two horrible please-dear-gods-let-me-die minutes), during which I gripped the sides of the cold, metal table as if hanging on for dear life, arched my back (not a good idea when you have all manner of medical paraphernalia in your lady cave all at once), broke into a cold sweat, and nearly bit through my lower lip trying not to swear at every asshole in the room responsible for my pain.

The radiologist was wonderful. I mean, I wanted to kill him at the time, but he worked quickly and clearly knew what he was doing. Talking constantly in a soft, calm voice, he repeatedly apologized for the pain, told me I was handling it like a champ (liar), and explained everything as it was happening. He even pointed things out on the screen, and kept calling my uterus “beautiful.” The best part was him telling me what his report would say (ALL CLEAR!), so I wouldn’t have to wait to hear it from my RE.

My uterus looked like the one on the left. Yay!

My uterus looked like the one on the left. Yay!
(Photo borrowed from

Instead of going back to work as originally planned, I headed home to my pajamas, warm bed, and percocet. Even with the painkiller, I had a good amount of pain and cramping for about an hour. But I’m back to normal now. All in all, I suppose it was a small price to pay for reassurance that my uterus is in tip-top shape for providing a home to developing human. 


37 thoughts on “Sonohysterography… F^@&ing Hurts

    • Oh, no! I hope it doesn’t give you nightmares. I won’t be forgetting about the pain any time soon. Hopefully, the next time I’m in this much pain, I’m giving birth!

  1. Ugh, that sounds horrible, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad that your uterus is beautiful (hey, we have to take all the complements we can get, right?)

  2. Yay to the beautiful uterus but boo that you had to go through all that pain to find out. I love your idea of an RE loyalty card and hugs and alcohol for repeat visits. It actually made me laugh out loud, which isn’t a good thing in a quiet office when everyone then wants you to tell them the joke!

  3. Oh man! I’m sorry it hurt so much. Mine wasn’t bad AT all, but I did just have an awful hysteroscopy procedure where they had to stop because I felt like I was being ripped apart. So now, it’s onto general anesthesia for my polyp removal. All that to say, I’m glad you got the all clear.

  4. Mine was terrible also! I love my Dr & she was very gentle & talked me through it, but it still hurt like a bitch & continued to hurt for an hour or 2 after. I was also given the compliment of a beautiful uterus. I’ll take it! Good for you! Hopefully we never have to go thru THAT again. Grief.

  5. Oh babes, sounds hor.end.ous. The things we endure huh, honestly. Poor you. I have now officially decided NOT to have one of these procedures. The HSG was traumatising enough. Really pleased though that you’ve got a tip top ute! Great stuff! xx

  6. That sounds painful! I’m so sorry that it hurt so much. Both of my saline sonogram and my HSG were okay. My RE’s nurse practitioner asked how I was doing afterwards because she said saline sonograms hurt a lot for many women. Yay for a beautiful uterus though!

  7. I’m sorry it was so painful. I never had a SHG. I think my RE prefers the hysteroscopy, which wasn’t bad. Glad to hear your ute looks good, though!

  8. Oh dear, I’ve got one coming up and I was hoping it wouldn’t be like the HSG. Oh well, who knows? Everyone’s body is different. I’m just glad you got a good result! Yay for a beautiful uterus!

  9. I’m very sorry you had a bad experience with the saline sono. Usually they are less uncomfortable than HSGs rather than worse. Things that can affect the comfort of a these procedures are the use of a tenaculum, which is a grasper to hold onto the cervix, or a balloon catheter, which dilates the cervix slightly and causes pain. I use a simple insemination catheter for the majority of my salines and get great images with minimal discomfort. It really depends on the person performing the test.
    As a patient, you can prepare for the test by taking pain relievers prior to the test. I have my patients take ibuprofen 400 mg 2 hours before the test and another dose 1 hour before the test. This works well without causing stomach upset. Breathing exercises like Alice Domar’s “mini-relaxations” also help during the procedure and can be found in her wonderful books.
    Finally, we know that if a small polyp is in the uterus, the odds of pregnancy drop 10-fold. So if you’re going to all the expense and trouble of doing IVF, it’s really worth it to have the test done before embryo transfer, and it can really find things that aren’t visible any other way. That’s why it has become standard of care to do this in most centers prior to IVF.
    Good luck with your procedure and congratulations on your beautiful uterus!

    • I definitely think it was worth it to ensure the best chances of a successful IVF. But when I describe my experience to “normals,” they tell me it sounds like torture, and I have to agree. 🙂 The radiologist did use a balloon, but he did the same thing during the HSG and it wasn’t nearly as bad. I wish they had said I could take something beforehand; it might have helped. Thanks for the tips! I hope I ever have to have this test again, but if I do, I’ll remember your advice.

  10. Never had one. Sounds like a wise choice since people say a LAP is supposed to be “just a little sore” and for days I felt like someone gave me a hysterectomy without telling me.

    I have like zero pain tolerance.

    But I’m glad your uterus is all beautiful and shiny. Yay!

    • I didn’t have much pain at all after my lap, even though the doctor spent a couple of hours cleaning out my severe endo. I was just tired, really tired, for a long time.

  11. I had one done yesterday and it hurt so freaking bad. The way you described it was perfect. I finished, walked out to my car, and just cried. None of my procedures; tubal recanalization, hsg, or IUIs have hurt at all and this one threw me for a loop. I couldn’t find anywhere online where people described it as painful until I stumbled on your blog. I know this was a while ago for you, but thanks for posting nonetheless. I don’t feel like such a baby!!

  12. Today is 10/2/14. Yesterday I had a saline-induced sonohysterogram (SHG), because I had been bleeding or spotting off and on since late April (2014). This was not done for fertility reasons, as I am 61 AND have had a tubiligation. I am widowed, so it’s been quite a while since anyone (or anything) has been ‘in there’.

    My initial GYN exam 2 weeks prior was EXTREMELY painful! She said that “it was really, really tight in there”. She confirmed that the bleeding WAS from the uterus, and said the first thing they think is cancer, so she ordered the SHG for 10/1.

    Well…..I thought the initial GYN exam was painful?! The SHG was hit-the-ceiling, this is gonna kill me painful!!! Note, again, that I haven’t had sex in a long time, so I apparently shrunk and revirginated! The first pass with the transducer was horrible. Then came the speculum, which I dreaded. Even worse than the exam 2 weeks ago!!! I was crying by this point, and getting more and more upset. I know this is lengthy, but I’m telling everyone this for a reason, and that is to help every single woman who has to have this, or similar tests done.

    Note that before my appt, I ASKED if they could give me a local anesthetic. “No, we don’t really do that.” Well, by the time she had to, AGAIN, put the speculum in, I was crying and actually shaking, and I said, as a ‘Hail Mary’, “Don’t you have any numbing cream???!!!!!”. She said “I DO have that lidocaine gel…I guess I could try that.” Are you frikkin’ kidding me??? They had this all along??!!!!!!! She applied the gel to my vagina, and I asked her “Can you put some on the speculum too?” “I guess so”.

    I gotta tell you, that gel made ALL the difference in the WORLD!!!! Had I known about it, I would have requested it for my initial exam and the SHG!

    So this is for all of you who may have a small uterus, or who haven’t had sex in a long time, or have any reproductive problems…….*****ALWAYS REQUEST LIDOCAINE GEL, BOTH ON YOUR VAGINA, AND ON THE SPECULUM AND/OR TRANSDUCER*****!!!!!!!!!!!

    I truly hope this helps other women. In fact, I’d like to hear from you if it does help you. By the way, she did see something that “didn’t look like a fibroid, cyst or polyp”. But I’ll get my biopsy results on Monday. If it’s NOT cancerous I’ll need a D&C to remove it. But if it IS cancer, I’ll need a complete hysterectomy. But that SHOULD take care of it. Good luck to all of us!


  13. Pingback: Moving Forward With FET | Forever Infertile

  14. I totally hear you! I had one last year and my body started going into shock as my arms went numb, my ears were ringing, and I was sweating. Unfortunately, I have to have another one in about a week and a half and I am totally dreading it because I know what this is about. I took some Advil the last time. This time I’m honestly thinking of taking one of my hydrocodones but I took that before a uterine biopsy and it didn’t do crap for that pain. So who knows. I guess things only get worse from here anyway!

  15. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone. I had one today and it hurt like hell! They didn’t tell me to take any kind of pain relief before hand. I was in so much pain that there was no way I was going to work. I shouldn’t haven’t been driving after the test. The pain was so intense it took all I had to keep myself on the road.
    I’ve endured 2 pregnacies and I don’t consider myself a whimp.

  16. I’m going through my 10th year of trying to conceive a child in my life (7 years with first husband, 2 years with my boyfriend after my husband and now on the 10th year with my current boyfriend) … I just had a sonohysterogram done yesterday and wow did it ever suck. I was so relaxed and expecting it to be better than every other horrible medical procedure I’ve had over the years, but it was awful, I was cramping so badly and was so tense the doctor couldn’t find my uterus. I relaxed enough to control the pain and was happy when the test was done.

    I had 2 hysterosalpingograms done 10 years ago and I don’t remember them hurting me that much, although my cervix is farther back in my body and every one struggles to find it the first time, which doesn’t help the situation. This is why I had the test done twice the first time. And now after having a sonohysterogram yesterday, I’m having a hysteosalpingogram again in 2 days. At least this is the last of the awful tests I need to do before I start treatment. I just hope it’s all worth it because it still hurts a day and a half later.

    Thank you for your post as you described your experience in a way that I could complely relate to. I thought I must be crazy to feel so much pain when everyone says they feel nothing (so jealous of them lol). I’m no wimp, I have Fibromyalgia so I’m used to pain of all kinds. But yes this really, really sucked. On a good note they said everything looked good except a small heart shaped abnormality that she didn’t seem worried about, but did ask if I had a dye test yet. Maybe she thinks my tubes are blocked because of the pain? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. Crossing my fingers that the HSG doesn’t kill me too!

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