Tubal Factor Infertility

Definition - What does Tubal Factor Infertility mean?

Tubal factor infertility occurs when there is a blockage or narrowing in one or both fallopian tubes that stops sperm and egg from meeting. As a result, conception does not occur. Tubal factor infertility is thought to account for 20-30% of all cases of infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Tubal Factor Infertility

In order for pregnancy to occur, eggs must travel from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes where they meet the sperm. If sperm cannot pass from the uterus to the fallopian tubes, the egg cannot be fertilized. Alternatively, the egg may be fertilized while remaining in the fallopian tube, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy which cannot be carried to term and which may threaten the life of the mother.

The causes of fallopian tube blockages which prevent eggs from reaching the uterus can include past injury, surgery, endometriosis, and certain infections such as chlamydia which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Any process which causes the formation of scar tissue within the fallopian tubes may prevent eggs from successfully reaching the uterus. Rarely, a naturally occurring congenital malformation may block the passage of eggs through the fallopian tubes.

Tubal factor infertility may be diagnosed through a number of imaging techniques such as a hysterosalpingogram or hysteroscopy. Because fallopian tube problems can be subtle and difficult to detect, infertility with no other identifiable cause may be assumed to be due to fallopian tube blockage.

Because any surgery to the fallopian tubes could cause the creation of more scar tissue, tubal factor infertility is most frequently treated through in vitro fertilization. In this procedure, eggs are removed from the uterus and fertilized in a lab. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus, bypassing the fallopian tubes altogether.

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