Imagine, if you will, a sound like electronic chimes as your screen is emblazoned with a rainbow and these words: The More You Know...
This is my saline sonogram public service announcement. Every day, a few people stumble on to my blog using the search terms "saline sonogram." They end up at this post, which probably doesn't offer much help if you're about to have the procedure done and wondering what to expect. So here's one patient's view of the saline sonogram.
A saline sonogram, like its cousin the hysterosalpingogram (HSG), forms part of the standard infertility work-up. Judging by infertility blogs and message boards, the HSG is more commonly done. Both saline sonograms and HSGs are diagnostic tools. By filling the uterus and fallopian tubes with fluid, doctors can check for structural abnormalities or blockages. As far as I can tell, there are only two essential differences between the two: the HSG uses dye and an X-ray, while the saline sonogram uses, as its name implies, salt-water and an ultrasound.
I've had two saline sonograms - one during the diagnostic process after being referred to an RE (reproductive endocrinologist), and one done as a mock embryo transfer prior to my first IVF. My nurse recommended taking Advil an hour or so before my appointment. The doctor used a speculum, just like in a Pap smear, and then she cleaned the cervix to prepare for the catheter. I didn't find this part very uncomfortable; Pap smears don't bother me too much, either, if that's any indication for you. Then, guided by ultrasound (I think vaginal, but I honestly can't remember), the doctor threads the catheter through the cervix into the uterus. In my experience, this is uncomfortable but not painful; it feels like a pinch. After the catheter is clearly in the uterus, the saline is pumped through to fill the uterus, flood the fallopian tubes, and hopefully spill right out. This is when I felt some strong cramps. On a pain scale of 1-10, I'd put them at around a 6. They made me grit my teeth, but not gasp in anything close to agony. And then, it's done! All the foreign objects get removed from your body, the water comes gushing back out, and the saline sonogram is over. The first time I had it done, I rested at home for the rest of the day. The second time, I went straight to work afterwards.
So there you have one person's experience of the saline sonogram. I'm not a medical professional, and not all saline sonograms or patients are exactly the same, but hopefully this gives you some idea of what to expect. Good luck!
Any readers who have had a saline sonogram? Feel free to add extra details or your own experience in the comments.