Approximately 10% of women in the United States, aged 15-44, will have trouble conceiving or staying pregnant, in their lifetime. Around 20-25% of those cases will result from tubal infertility. In some cases, tubal infertility is preventable and able to be fixed but, in cases of minor tube damage, it can be difficult to diagnose.
What is Tubal Infertility?
In a normal pregnancy, the male’s sperm fertilizes an egg in the fallopian tube, it then makes its way down the tubes into the uterus and attaches to the lining of the female’s uterus (if successful, implantation occurs). Tubal infertility occurs when something prevents the sperm from reaching an egg to fertilize it, or stops a fertilized egg from reaching the uterus. Tubal factor infertility can be caused by blockages, scarring or malformations in the fallopian tubes (for example, damages to the fimbria that line the tube. Fimbria facilitate the movement of the egg through the tube to the uterus). The blockage doesn’t have to be a full blockage. It is still considered tubal infertility if the blockage is big enough to allow sperm through but not big enough to allow a fertilized egg through to the uterus.
What Causes Tubal Infertility?
There are a few reasons why a woman’s fallopian tubes might be experiencing a blockage. While the most common cause of tubal infertility is an infection, it can also result from endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, a sexually transmitted disease, ectopic pregnancies, and previous surgeries. Women with a history of abdominal surgeries or who have experienced a ruptured appendix are at a higher risk of tubal infertility.
How is Tubal Infertility Diagnosed?
There are two primary ways to diagnose tubal infertility, an Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and a laparoscopy.
An HSG is an X-ray of a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. It is used to identify potential blockages, anomalies, tumors, or scar tissue that could be causing conceiving issues. Before the X-ray is taken, the uterine cavity is filled with dye. If the fallopian tubes are clear, this dye will pass through them and into the abdominal cavity, which will show up on the X-ray. If there is a blockage, the radiologist will be able to identify it. The procedure is very quick (around 5 minutes) and pretty painless. She might experience cramping from the insertion of the dye, but capturing the images is easily performed right afterward.
A laparoscopy can also be completed to diagnose tubal infertility. Like a hysteroscopy, a laparoscopy is another method of viewing a woman’s reproductive organs more closely. Unlike the former procedure, though, a laparoscopy is done under general anesthesia and is a mildly invasive process. It is used to help locate cysts or other growths that could be contributing to infertility. A small incision is made in the belly and a lighted tube is inserted to examine the organs. In some circumstances, a doctor will want to take a biopsy for further inspection or may even want to drain cysts or use laser treatments to correct scar tissue damage. Depending on what needs to be done during the procedure, it could take around 30-90 minutes.
Natural Therapies to Unblock Fallopian Tubes: Myth or Truth?
Some naturopaths, or doctors who combine natural and modern medicine, recommend natural remedies for certain problems. In the case of a tubal blockage, there are a few therapies that are common recommendations from naturopathic doctors.
Fertility cleanses involve consuming specific herbs intended to flush the body of toxins to prepare the body for pregnancy. While the idea seems sound, most experts believe that cleansing with powerful herbs while trying to conceive is not a good idea.
While some herbs are considered good for certain aspects of your health, herbs such as red clover, ginger root, and apple cider vinegar won’t magically unblock your tubes. These substances may be great for balancing hormones and increasing circulation, but they aren’t made for fixing tubal infertility.
Stretching can ease a lot of pain as well as stress and anxiety which can make it easier to conceive, but stretching isn’t going to loosen and unblock the obstruction of the fallopian tubes.
If you believe you have tubal infertility, consult with your doctor and they will advise you on the next steps for how to remove the blockage and become fertile again. If you’re having abdominal pain and you’re not sure what the culprit could be consult with your physician and check out our blog on pelvic pain. For more information on your fertility treatment options and at home fertility, subscribe to our newsletter below. The Stork OTC is your shortcut to conception all in your own home. Learn more at our website here.