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Infertility and fallopian tube damage

The fallopian tubes lie alongside the ovaries. Their function is to transport the egg (released at time of ovulation) to the uterus. Conception takes place in one of the fallopian tubes when the egg meets the sperm. If one or both of the tubes is damaged, fertility problems result. Tubal factor infertility, as it is known, is the cause of infertility in 40% of women who have difficulty conceiving.

Blocked fallopian tubes may result from scar tissue, caused by endometriosis or a sexually transmitted disease, for example, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Infections caused by an abortion or miscarriage can also cause scar tissue to develop. Sometimes, if the fallopian tube is partially blocked, the sperm is able to fertilize the egg, but the embryo cannot move any further. It develops in the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus; this is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

Alternatively, the fallopian tubes may have been misformed since birth, with a blockage being the result.

Often, blocked fallopian tubes show no symptoms. Women only discover them problem when they are unable to get pregnant. Doctors can diagnose damage with a procedure called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) which consists of injecting dye into the cervix and then x-raying the pelvic area.

If only one tube is blocked, it may still be possible to become pregnant. Fertility drugs can help to improve odds of conception. However, if both tubes are blocked, surgery may be able to remove minor scar tissue, although there is the likelihood that it will re-develop over time. In cases of severe blockage or scarring, IVF may be the best option.

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