There are 7 steps that could allow you get pregnant even with a blocked fallopian tube. It’s not time to give up on your quest to have your baby. Even you too could carry your bundle of joy in a matter of months.
What Causes Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
Blockages can occur in the Fallopian tubes for a number of reasons, but the most common cause is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Typically the result of a sexually transmitted disease, PID is a bacterial infection of the reproductive organs that affects the uterus and Fallopian tubes. The infection may lead to pelvic pain, abscess growth, scarring from adhesions, and may even cause an ectopic pregnancy if left untreated.
Additional causes of blocked Fallopian tubes include an ongoing or past experience of…
- Uterine infections
- STD infections
- Abdominal or pelvic surgeries
Step 1 – Understand why fallopian tubes are so important in getting pregnant
In natural unassisted conception, the fallopian tubes are a vital part of achieving pregnancy. The finger-like projections at the end of the tube “collect” the egg which is ovulated from the adjacent ovary. To do this, fallopian tubes must be freely movable, not stuck to the pelvic wall, uterus or ovaries by adhesions.
Once the egg is collected, the tube safeguards the egg until it is fertilised by sperm, where after it nurtures the resulting embryo as it moves through the length of the tube to the uterus over five days. To function as an incubator where the egg and sperm meet and the initial stages of embryo development takes place, the tubes must be open (patent). In addition, the inside lining of the fallopian tubes must act as a conveyor system, moving the developing embryo to the uterus where it implants 3 to 5 days after ovulation.
If your fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked (called tubal factor infertility) the egg and the sperm are prevented from interacting, and the proper movement of embryos along the tube to the uterus is obstructed, preventing a pregnancy.
Step 2 – Understand how fallopian tubes can be damaged or blocked
The fallopian tubes are delicate structures, as thin as the lead of a pencil. For this reason, they can easily become blocked or damaged, which is called tubal infertility and reduces the chances of the sperm reaching the egg, proper embryo development and implantation in the uterus.
Blockages may be due to scarring from infection or previous abdominal or pelvic surgery especially when the fallopian tubes or ovaries were involved. The competence of the surgeon is crucial in limiting post-operative damage.
The main cause of tubal infertility, however, is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is also associated with an increased risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus).
Also known as one of the causes of fallopian tube damage is the use of the intra-uterine contraceptive device (contraceptive “loop”), especially when there is more than one sexual partner. Other possible causes include endometriosis and sexually transmittable disease such as gonorrhoea resulting in infection of the fallopian tubes.
Step 3 – Contact a specialist fertility clinic
Given how crucially important your fallopian tubes are in falling pregnant, and how very delicate and easily damaged they are, it is clear that falling pregnant with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes will require the help of specialists.
Step 4 – Attend your initial consultation
At the initial consultation, let the IVF specialists table your options and start to plan your journey to parenthood.
During the 30 – 60 minute initial consultation, highly qualified and experienced fertility specialists should:
* do an extensive review of your medical history
* perform a comprehensive infertility physical exam and blood tests
* provide in-depth explanations and answers to all your questions
* detail the treatment options
* develop with you a personalised fertility treatment plan.
Step 5 – Determine if – and to what extent – your fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked
A qualified fertility specialist will be able to determine if your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, using a pelvic x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The test involves the injection of dye into the uterine cavity and a simultaneous x-ray of the uterus and tubes, allowing the specialist to see any damage or blockage.
It may be that the flexibility of the fallopian tube is reduced, so it can’t pick up the egg when it is released from the ovary. There may be a total blockage preventing the sperm and egg to meet and produce an embryo. It could also be that there is damage to the inside wall of the fallopian tube, which prevents the embryo from moving down to the uterus. This could result in an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo attaches to the side wall of the fallopian tube, resulting in rupturing of the tube at about seven weeks pregnancy duration.
The position and severity of the damage or blockage will determine which treatment is right for you.
Step 6 – Choose your treatment
If it has been established that your Fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, are two options for treatment to enable your pregnancy: tubal surgery and IVF treatment.
Get a fertility clinic that offers both advanced microsurgical treatments as well as in vitro fertilisation as therapy for tubal factor infertility.
Depending on the position of the damage or blockage – and the severity of the damage – it may be possible to repair a fallopian tube. Fortunately, there is an alternative to “open surgery”: minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy.
Minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy involves looking directly into your abdomen and pelvis using a small camera that is placed through an incision in your umbilicus. This allows a specialist to evaluate and potentially treat gynaecological problems such as scar tissue, adhesions and endometriosis.
For this operation you will require a general anaesthetic (you will be asleep), but in most cases you will go home the same day. After the incision is made (usually next to the navel), the laparoscope is inserted into the abdominal cavity. Either carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide gas is then passed into the cavity to separate the abdominal wall from the underlying organs. This makes examination of the internal organs easier. Anywhere between one and three more incisions are made to allow access to other surgical instruments, for example, a laser. Once a diagnosis is made or the problem is removed (or both), the instruments are taken out, the gas allowed to escape and the incisions sewn shut. The stitches may need to be removed at a later stage or else they will dissolve by themselves.
What to Expect After Surgery
Most women experience bloating, abdominal discomfort and/or back and shoulder tip pain for 24-48 hours after surgery. This is normal and is related to the gas used to distend your abdomen during the surgery. This pain should not be severe and should gradually improve over 24-48 hours. You may also feel abdominal bloating, nausea, abdominal cramps, or constipation.
Most patients are able to resume normal activities within a few days to one week. We recommend that you do not engage in any strenuous physical activity for about a week or so. Following a pelvic laparoscopy, we recommend you use sanitary towels instead of tampons to cope with any vaginal bleeding or discharge.
It is absolutely essential that only a competent qualified fertility specialist perform this advanced surgery.
If surgery is not feasible because of extensive damage to your Fallopian tubes, In Vitro-Fertilisation is another option.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Treatment
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment was originally developed for women with damaged or missing Fallopian tubes in 1983, and since then more than 5 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF treatment, with success rates comparable – and even superior – to those of nature.
In the simplest terms, IVF treatment is a process of assisted reproduction where the egg and sperm are fertilised outside of the body to form an embryo, which is then transferred to the uterus to hopefully implant and become a pregnancy.
However, IVF treatment is not a single event, but rather a series of procedures that are completed over five stages to complete a treatment cycle.
IVF treatments commence with a course of hormone therapy to stimulate the development of several follicles in the ovary. Under ultrasound guidance, these are then punctured with a specialised needle to retrieve eggs, which are then fertilised in a petri dish (‘in vitro’ which literally means ‘in glass’) to create several embryos. After three to five days in an incubator, one or two of these embryos are transferred through the vagina to the uterus, where implantation occurs and pregnancy begins. The whole process from commencement of ovarian stimulation up to the embryo transfer stage usually takes just under three weeks.
Step 7 – Complete your treatment
Whether surgery or IVF treatment is the right option for you,ensure that you get state-of-the-art fertility treatment, in a caring and comfortable environment
Your next step
You have already completed the first two Steps to getting pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes: understanding why your fallopian tubes are so important to getting pregnant and how they can become damaged or blocked.