General Question

DigitalBlue's avatar

How does damage to the fallopian tubes affect fertility, exactly?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6454 points ) August 25th, 2013

My husband and I are trying to have a baby and not having a lot of luck so far. I am going for surgery to treat endometriosis in a couple of weeks and my doctor is going to check my tubes.

I was told that shooting the dye through is often enough to open them up if they need it, but there is the possibility that they will be blocked. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but how damaged is too damaged to be repaired? If the tubes are not opened by the procedure does that mean it is beyond treatment?
Anything else related to the topic is welcome.

Thanks.

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35 Answers

Neodarwinian's avatar

The fallopian tubes are the ducts running from the ovaries that the eggs travels down to plant themselves in the walls of the uterus.where fertilization takes place.

That is the mechanical problem with blocked tubes as without egg delivery to the uterus the sperm will not fertilize the egg there.

How damaged is too damaged? That will be up to the physician.

Hope it all turns out alright for you.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Do you have any other damage than the endometriosis? The fact that we can conceive a baby always boggles my mind. It’s such a complex act. Good luck lady.

flip86's avatar

If you can’t conceive the traditional way there is always In Vitro Fertilization.

drhat77's avatar

Scar tissue from endometreosis can keep the sperm from migrating to the egg, or worse, keep a fertilized egg from getting into the uterus (resulting in an ectopic pregnancy). Good luck with the test.

Sunny2's avatar

I wonder if microscopic surgery is at a point where they can now take your own eggs and plant them in your uterus. If they can take someone else’s eggs and plant them, why not your own? In any case, I hope your problem is solved easily. Good luck.

drhat77's avatar

@sunny2 that’s invitro fertilization

DigitalBlue's avatar

@Sunny2 I really don’t know much about it, although I guess I should. I have no intention of having IVF if it comes to that, but I have become generally curious about how it works and what the options are and what the latest medicine has to say about it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DigitalBlue My cousin had all kinds of problems conceiving and went the IVF route and had several eggs implanted and two took. It was a rough rough pregnancy and eventually she had a boy. They gave up on kids and just did want young couples do. And she got pregnant again and had a healthy full term boy. Don’t give up.

laureth's avatar

My husband and I are going through fertility treatments. One of my Fallopean tubes is blocked, which is a real hassle. I’m taking medicine to be able to produce eggs, and it means that if it only induces follicle formation on the blocked side, it’s a lot of money for nothing, and then starting all over again.

I spoke with my fertility doctor about the possibility of unblocking it, but she was against that option. It can turn out poorly and cause scarring of its own, which can result in ectopic pregnancy if a fertilized egg decides to stop short and implant right in the tube. This can be life threatening.

If the scarring/blockage is minimal, it’s possible that just checking to see if there is a blockage can re-open the passage. In my case, the doctor used a tiny air bubble to see if mine were blocked. It went through on one, but not on the other, so that didn’t work for me. Everyone’s different, though. Your doc will tell you if they’re blocked, and if so, if unblocking is an option in your case.

Good luck! It can be a long and difficult journey.

JLeslie's avatar

The tube is where the egg gets fertilized. If it is damaged the sperm and egg might never meet.

Why are you getting surgery before trying the dye without surgery?

JLeslie's avatar

IVF is not planting your eggs in your uteris. It is putting an embryo in your uteris. The surgery is not really “microscopic.” They basically stick a needle through your vaginal wall into the ovary and remove your eggs by pulling them out through the syringe. Then they fertilize the eggs and put 2–3 into your uteris on day 5 of the embryos development. They don’t cut you open to remove eggs, they just use a needle.

There is microscopic surgery to repair fallopian tubes though.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie the surgery has nothing to do with my tubes, she just wants to do the chromotubation while she is in there. We decided on surgery because it will improve my odds of conceiving if my tubes are healthy to remove the endo, and because I’m sick. All the time. And I’m sick of being sick. :)

drhat77's avatar

@jleslie if they’re going to stick a needle into your ovary and pluck out an egg they ain’t putting back in fertilized. Unless you feel like flushing $15 grand down the toilet. Which would at least help sewer dwellers.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I worded that strangely in my edit. I meant to say that if my tubes are healthy, removing the endometriosis would improve my chances of conceiving.

drhat77's avatar

But endometerosis leaves scars where ever it deposits because the blood cannot escape like it does from the womb, so that trapped blood just becomes scar.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@drhat77 yes, but they remove everything that they can, including scar tissue. It’s also not necessarily true that infertility from endometriosis is caused from damage to the fallopian tubes, but they don’t really know why it causes infertility in many cases. That infertility is often reversed after the lesions are removed.

I think it is pelvic inflammatory disease, usually from untreated infection, that most often causes infertility by causes irreparable damage to the tubes. I’m not absolutely certain, but I think that is the case. I only know about the endo because it pertains to me and I’ve read up on it, and that is how my doctor explained it to me.

drhat77's avatar

Scraping off scars can also leave more scars. But if scars are preventing fertility it can sometimes be a worthwhile option to pursue.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DigitalBlue Have you talked with WillWorkForChocolate about this?

JLeslie's avatar

My story is I got pregnant every time I tried except one time it took me two months instead of one. I have been pregnant 5 times, never had a baby. Without all the details, I had laproscopic surgery to see what was going on in there, and after that surgery I never got pregnant again. I know many many people who have surgery, and boom pregnant in a few months, beautiful bouncing baby. But, before you risk surgery, you can do the dye test without surgery. But, if you want her to try to clean up the endo anyway, then I agree it makes sense to do the surgery. I did work with a woman though who was not getting pregnant and after she did the dye she got pregnant two months later. She possibly was one of those women the dye helps, or it could be a coincedence.

@drhat77 Huh? Read what you wrote me and then reinterpret it for me. I don’t understand what you wrote. Maybe a word is missing. I was just commenting on what @Sunny2 wrote and giving some more detail.

drhat77's avatar

>drhat77.exe—verbose
The procedure you describe of removing an egg from an ovary and placing it in the uterus is exactly ivf except for one step: fertilizing it with sperm. But the thing is, for the pain and expense of harvesting and re implanting the egg, no one is going to do it with out fertilizing it first because it would be a waste if the mother does not get pregnant after all that.

JLeslie's avatar

@drhat77 You need to open your medical books. Fertilization does not happen in the uteris.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, if it happened there, ectopic pregnancies wouldn’t be a problem.

drhat77's avatar

@jleslie yes you are correct. But in ivf the fertilization happens in the test tube anyway.
Let’s take a step back… where is the confusion? Sunny2 wanted to know if there was a surgery to put eggs in the uterus, and I told him that’s basically ivf. Then, you said that ivf wasn’t that, it was putting fertilized eggs in the uterus, which is correct.

JLeslie's avatar

@drhat77 You don’t put eggs in the uteris, you put already fertilized eggs in the uteris, an egg is unfertilized.

JLeslie's avatar

@drhat77 You wrote: no one is going to do it with out fertilizing it first because it would be a waste if the mother does not get pregnant after all that. Which means you think there is actually a chance a woman could get pregnant that way. She can’t. The egg becomes fertlized during the decent through the fallopian tube. If it is unfertilized by the time it gets to the uteris, no pregnancy that month. If you pull the egg out and put it in the uteris, no pregnancy that month. The egg has to be fertilized either in the fallopian tube or in the test tube before it gets to the uteris.

drhat77's avatar

What I meant was no one was going to take an egg from the ovary and implant it in the uterus unfertilized because that’d be a waste. They would fertilize it, and then re-implant it.

JLeslie's avatar

I just found it odd to even mention it since it is completely pointless and zero medical justification for such a thing. Putting the egg into the uteris is the same as never putting it in the uteris. It is a nonexistent scenerio basically.

drhat77's avatar

@jleslie ahh I see.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@Adirondackwanabe yes.
@JLeslie I’m sorry it worked out that way for you, that must have been difficult.
For me, I can’t handle the pain and sickness anymore. Do I want a baby? I do, I always have. Do I want a baby at any cost? No. Not that I don’t respect and understand couples that can and do go to great lengths to fulfill that dream.
To the best of my understanding, the odds are in my favor of the procedure being helpful, but of course that could turn out to be untrue.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue I’m not trying to talk you out of it. I just did not understand that things could actually get worse for me. Since I was getting pregnant I think I should have tried several more times before doing the surgery. The surgery did basically cure the digestive problems I was having. I had a much more complicated case than yours most likely. If the surgery proves to show that your tubes are messed up and not much can be done, you can try IVF if eventually you decide to and the odds might be very good for you with that. I had so many GYN problems that it was much more than endo. I didn’t even have much of an endo problem.

Do you have any reason to believe you have a gynocological infection now?

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DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie no, no reason to think that.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue Then I think it makes sense to try the surgery.

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