Tubal Factor Infertility & IVF

In vitro fertilization can be used effectively to treat infertility in a number of situations. When a couple has been trying to conceive for a year or more without success, many opt for IVF as a way to deal with the situation. One of the causes of infertility for which IVF is an excellent treatment is tubal factor infertility.

What Is Tubal Factor Infertility?

Tubal factor infertility accounts for nearly one-quarter of all cases of infertility and includes cases of blocked fallopian tubes or pelvic adhesions caused by PID or endometriosis. Sometimes a tube may become blocked following pelvic surgery. If the damage to the tubes is relatively minor, it is often difficult to determine the problem is related to the tubes. After standard infertility testing is done, if there is no other apparent cause of infertility, it is generally assumed the problem is tubal factor infertility. If, however, the amount of scarring on the tubes is minimal, the infertility may be categorized as unexplained infertility.

The Causes Of Tubal Factor Infertility

PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, is usually caused by either Chlamydia or gonorrhea, both sexually transmitted diseases, which make their way through the cervix and into the fallopian tubes. The severe inflammatory response to the STD causes white blood cells, bacteria and other combatant fluids to fill the tubes as they fight the infection. Eventually the infection is stopped, but permanent scarring to the delicate inside of the tubes is left behind. Scar tissue formed at the ends of the tubes may completely or partially block them, cutting off the tubes from the ovaries. If PID is caught and treated early with an aggressive antibiotic regime, it is possible to maintain fertility. However, in most cases, PID renders a woman infertile. Cases of ectopic pregnancy also have the potential to block the tubes. It is estimated that the rate of ectopic pregnancies in women who had PID is 6-10 times higher than in those who did not.

Diagnosis By X-Ray

X-ray examination using a contrasting dye to highlight the fallopian tubes is the initial investigative tool used to determine blockage. If the tubes are open the dye flows through and spills into the abdominal cavity. However, even if this happens, it does not mean the tubes are functional. The inside lining may be damaged, even though the x-ray shows the dye flowing through the tube. Scarred tubes, even when they are open, may not be able to perform their function in connection with establishing a pregnancy. If there is a problem in egg pickup, transport to the tube, fertilization, or transport to the uterus, a pregnancy will usually fail.

IVF As A Means Of Conception For Women With Blocked Tubes

It is possible, and often preferred, to treat tubal factor infertility with IVF. IVF bypasses the problems with the tubes instead of attempting to repair them-as happens with surgical intervention. IVF is performed by removing several mature eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them in a lab, and then transferring them back to the uterus. The success rates for IVF in women with tubal factor infertility are usually very good. The reason for this is that most women who have tubal infertility issues often do not have any other issues that would prevent pregnancy.


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