Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all cases of infertility can be traced to tubal factor infertility, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. Tubal factor infertility is the result of blocked fallopian tubes, tubal damage or tubal scarring, and the problem cannot be diagnosed without an ultrasound examination and other tests at a fertility clinic.
Most women with some form of tubal scarring or tubal damage have a lot of difficulty conceiving and in cases where no cause of infertility is found with standard infertility testing methods, the diagnosis is usually tubal factor. Here’s a close look at the key causes of tubal factor infertility and the different types of fertility treatment options available:
Causes of Tubal Factor Infertility
The most common causes of tubal factor infertility are:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is often the result of Chlamydia or gonorrhea. The infection works its way from the cervix up to the uterus and fallopian tubes and causes a significant inflammatory response. The tubes become infected with bacteria, pus and an excessive amount of white blood cells which make the woman infertile. While the bacteria can be controlled and destroyed, the inner lining of the tubes are permanently scarred and the ovaries can become partially blocked as a result.
Another common cause of tubal factor infertility can be traced to endometriosis. Pelvic endometriosis is diagnosed in about 15% of all women of reproductive age and occurs when the endometrial tissue (the lining that covers the uterine cavity) becomes implanted outside the uterus. This lining responds to hormonal changes at the end of each menstrual cycle and may cause inflammation, scarring and adhesion formation.
Tubal ligation is a form of permanent birth control where the fallopian tubes are cut, blocked or tied so that sperm cannot meet the egg. While this procedure can be reversed, many women who have undergone the tubal ligation procedure do have difficult conceiving.
Treatment Options for Tubal Factor Infertility
Tubal infertility is often detected with procedures such as a hysterosalpingogram or a laparoscopy. The hysterosalpingogram is an x-ray examination that reveals any significant scarring of the tubes and can help to determine whether the tubes are functioning properly. A laparoscopy is performed to diagnose tubal damage using a special scope and tubal catheterization procedures.
Some of the common fertility treatment options for tubal factor infertility include:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) – a common fertility treatment that involves fertilizing the eggs in a laboratory setting after stimulating the follicles to produce more eggs
In vitro maturation (IVM) – an alternative to IVF where the eggs are extracted before they mature and then left to mature for 24 to 48 hours before a sperm injection
Learn more about the latest fertility treatments in our information guide. Consult with an infertility specialist in your area to find out if you may be experiencing problems with conceiving that can be traced to tubal factor infertility.