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What is Fallopian Tubal Blockage and How it Affects Female Fertility?

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Tubal factor is found to cause infertility in about 10% of the female patients

Mrs. Gurpreet (name changed), 37 years old, was diagnosed with secondary infertility for 4 years, and 8 years ago, she delivered her daughter by caesarean section. One of her ovaries was removed while she had undergone a major surgery in the past. Before referral, 17-18 Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) were done for her which went in vain. On visiting Nova IVI Fertility, the experts diagnosed her for tubal factor infertility that was obstructing her second pregnancy. Later, she was suggested to go for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).  She conceived in the first attempt of the treatment and delivered a healthy baby.

Fertility Consultant at Nova IVI Fertility, said “We see that around 10% of those women who visit Nova centres with fertility issues have tubal factors as the cause. The approximate age group of these patients is between 30 and 40 years. Recognising the symptoms of tubal factors infertility is not that easy like in other conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), which have concrete symptoms that one can relate to and be aware of. Usually there are no symptoms, unless there is water collection in the tube that becomes obvious on ultrasound that one suspects a tubal cause.”

Tubal factor infertility is the condition wherein the fallopian tube in a woman is blocked, which obstructs the process of fertilisation of the egg and the sperm. The blocked fallopian tube thereby prevents the sperm, and in many cases an embryo too, from reaching the uterus for pregnancy. The uterus is connected with the fallopian tube on either sides of the uterus. The blockage can sometimes be a small one where it allows the sperm but not the embryo to reach the uterus. However there are many patients where the tube is patent, as in the tests done for tubal patency, but the tubes are not functional. Patent non-functional tubes are difficult to diagnose. This may be seen in laparoscopy. Tuberculosis, pelvic infections, previous pelvic and abdominal surgeries are risk factors.

One of the main causes for tubal factor infertility is infections, which can occur through sexually transmitted diseases. Other factors such as endometriosis where there is tissue growth outside the uterus or any previous surgery that a woman undergoes can also lead to tubal factor infertility. Pelvic inflammatory diseases where the female reproductive organs are infected also tend to damage the fallopian tubes. Ironically in endometriosis, the tubes are patent in almost all cases but they are not functional due to altered tubo-ovarian relationships. History of termination of unwanted pregnancies and untrained dais are also evolving as a big factors.

Treatment for Tubal block in Infertility

There are two ways in which tubal factor infertility can be treated: either through a surgery or through IVF. One can go for surgery if the fallopian tubes are not damaged badly. Post-surgery, the condition can be overcome which can help in conception later. But, if the tubes are severely damaged, doctors recommend IVF which will help women conceive naturally.

“Most women who are diagnosed for tubal factor infertility come to us after they reach a critical stage. And this calls for IVF treatment. However, each case is different, and recommendations on surgery or IVF is based on age of the patient, number of years of infertility, severity of damage and location of block. But IVF is a boon for tubal factor infertility, as there is some treatment that can bypass the tubes and conception is possible.” The doctor added.

Infertility due to tubal factors can be prevented by proper treatment of pelvic infection, avoidance of mid-trimester induced abortions, not to do termination of pregnancies under guidance of quacks, laparoscopic and timely abdominal and pelvic surgeries such as appendectomies. A healthy diet improves immunity and so the chances of tuberculosis are less. Keeping a regular check on one’s reproductive health is the key to preventing oneself from bigger complications caused due to tubal factor infertility. Seeking timely medical help will ensure keeping fertility issues at bay.

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