What Does Your Tube Have To Do with Getting Pregnant? The causes and treatment of Tubal Factor Infertility

August 20, 2015

“Both my tubes are blocked; do I have any chance to get pregnant? What are my options? How can I know if my tubes are ok? Can tubes be fixed? Can tied tubes be reopened?”

These are only few of the hundreds of questions I get asked every day and it’s understandable why there is a lot of confusion on this topic.

Allow me to address some of the major concerns around tubal factor infertility.

The fallopian tube connects the ovary, where the egg is released to the uterus or womb. Normally, the fallopian tube picks up an egg each month as it is ovulated and released from the ovary. Fertilization, the process in which a man’s sperm joins with an egg, takes place in the fallopian tube.

A blockage in the fallopian tubes will not allow the egg and sperm to meet.

Some infections like Chlamydia can also contribute to a tubal or ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an egg is fertilized but, due to the damaged lining of the tube, it is unable to travel to the uterus, growing instead in the wall of the fallopian tube. This condition can result in rupture, internal bleeding and further tubal damage.

Tubal factor infertility accounts for about 25 – 30% of all cases of infertility and the condition includes cases of completely blocked fallopian tubes and cases where just one tube is blocked or there is scar tissue inside or around the tubes.

Here is the big surprise about tubal factor infertility, normally there are no symptoms that occur with a blocked or damaged fallopian tube.

If you have certain types of blockages, for instance due to endometriosis or PID (chronic inflammation of the pelvis due to Chlamydia infection), you might experience some pain in your lower abdominal area or you might experience some vaginal discharges that you’re not used to. But this is not always the case and, in most instances, the biggest clue is that you are not getting pregnant when you are trying or when you have an ectopic pregnancy. So you may be unaware for many years until you start trying to get pregnant. You think you are doing everything right, you are using your ovulation kit predictor but it isn’t working for you.

However if you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy or have been trying for over a year to get pregnant without success, it’s time to make an appointment with a fertility doctor.

If you are diagnosed with a blocked fallopian tube, rest assured that there are numerous treatment options.

The first would be to determine whether you have a blockage on one side, or both.

If you only have a blockage on one side then you might be prescribed some fertility drugs to help you ovulate on the fully functioning side to increase your chances.

If you have blockages on both sides there are two options, surgery or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

The most significant issues are success rates, the degree of tubal damage, the age of the female, and whether other infertility factors (male or female) are present.

IVF typically provides the best results; however, surgical approaches may be advisable if your tubes are only minimally damaged or when surgery is planned due to other pelvic findings such as hydrosalpinx or fibroids.

In case of tubal ligation, “tied tubes”, patients most often need IVF to bypass the blockage. In some rare cases, surgery can be done to reattach tubes after ligation, though with poor results.

The decision to have one of these therapies for tubal infertility should be based on several factors, which your fertility specialist should discuss with you. If you are interested in further information on this topic or would like to arrange a FREE telephone consultation with a fertility specialist then please contact us. Link to contact form please.

Let’s talk fertility!

– Dr Roberta Corona.

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