When The Fallopian Tubes Cause Infertility
Tubal factor infertility occurs when the sperm is prevented from reaching the egg for fertilization. This type of infertility also happens when the embryo cannot reach the uterus. In most cases, there is either damage or obstruction to the fallopian tube. Infection is the most common cause of tubal factor infertility, but ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, and previous surgery can also be culprits.
What is hydrosalpinx?
The blockage of the fallopian tube due to the buildup of watery fluid is known as hydrosalpinx. The leading cause of hydrosalpinx is sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that have not been treated. Other causes include previous surgery, appendicitis, and endometriosis. Hydrosalpinx makes pregnancy difficult. For fertilization to occur, the egg and sperm need to unite. If both fallopian tubes are blocked, the woman will experience infertility. If only one tube is blocked, there is a chance of pregnancy but complications, such as fluid reaching the uterus, are possible.
Fixing a tubal blockage
Both outpatient and inpatient surgical procedures can be done when an issue is identified with the fallopian tube. The procedures include tubal cannulation, fimbrioplasty, salpingostomy, and salpingectomy. Cannulation and fimbrioplasty are done to unblock the fallopian tubes. Salpingostomy creates an opening without removing the tube, while salpingectomy is the complete removal of the tube. If these procedures do not work, then in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the next step.
Tubal surgery and IVF
If the tubal surgery is successful, the patient should heal fully before trying to conceive (TTC) again. If the above procedures are unsuccessful and the tube remains blocked, the woman will likely require fertility treatment, such as IVF. During IVF, the egg and sperm are combined outside the body. After fertilization, the embryo is placed directly into the woman’s uterus, bypassing the tubes.
TTC with hydrosalpinx
In the case of hydrosalpinx, there are 2 options to become pregnant. One can either remove the tube and perform IVF, or try IVF without removing or fixing the tube. However, trying IVF without treating the affected tube poses a risk. The fluid can travel into the uterine cavity and decrease the chances of pregnancy. There could be difficulty in implantation and a risk of pregnancy loss. Healthcare providers usually recommend treating the fallopian tube before attempting IVF to achieve a better outcome.
What’s the prognosis?
The ability to conceive depends on each patient’s specific case and the severity of the blockage. Without treating the damaged tube, pregnancy is still possible with IVF but comes with complications. For women with hydrosalpinx, fixing or removing the tube before IVF is a preferred option. The healthcare provider will analyze each patient’s case and recommend the best treatment to achieve a successful pregnancy.