IVF and Blocked Fallopian Tubes


If you are trying to achieve a pregnancy but have blocked fallopian tubes, you will be pleased to know that In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment has helped millions of women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes to have a baby. In fact, IVF was created specifically to treat the many women who face the challenge of blocked fallopian tubes.

In this article, we find out what role the fallopian tubes play in conception and why they are so important to achieving a pregnancy, how blocked or damaged fallopian tubes can be treated and how IVF circumvents the challenge of blocked fallopian tubes to help achieve a pregnancy.

What role do the fallopian tubes play in conception?

The fallopian tubes are minute, delicate tubes that stretch from the uterus to the ovaries and are a crucial part of the female reproductive system.

As there is no direct connection between the ovaries and fallopian tubes, the egg is transported to the uterus in a peritoneal fluid produced by the fimbriae on the edge of the tube’s opening. When an ovary releases an egg during ovulation each month, the egg is picked up by the adjacent fallopian tube with the little finger-like projections called fimbriae at the very end of the fallopian tubes.

The egg is then gently moved down along the tube to meet the sperm. For this to happen, healthy tubal cilia are essential – these are tiny little hair-like projections inside the tubes. The cilia gently move the little egg along to where it can meet the sperm and, if fertilised, the cilia gently move the embryo along to the uterus, where it will hopefully implant and become a pregnancy.

How important are fallopian tubes?

It is easy to understand just how important these tiny, delicate structures are, because this is where fertilization usually happens. By transporting the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, the fallopian tubes allow the egg and the sperm to meet, so fertilisation can take place.

If your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, the egg and the sperm are unable able to meet – and natural conception is not possible. In fact, it is so certain that a pregnancy cannot occur with blocked fallopian tubes that procedures to block fallopian tubes are used as a very effective form of permanent contraception, or sterilization.

However, for conception to take place, a fallopian tube not only needs to be open all along its length, it also needs to be free to move around, and the inside of the tube needs to have a normal structure.

Unfortunately, these small and fragile tubes can become dysfunctional in many ways. Fallopian tubes may be blocked for a number of different reasons, they may be damaged or swollen, or there could be damage to the actual structure of the tube preventing it from moving around freely or from moving the egg or embryo successfully along the tube.

It could be that the fallopian tubes are not blocked, but simply swollen or damaged by infection caused by a condition like endometriosis, a previous pelvic or sexually transmitted infection, or previous surgery. It could also be that scar tissue can hold the fallopian tubes down and prevent their free movement. It is also possible for debris of some kind to get inside the tube and cause a blockage. Similarly, there could be some slough or some tissue that is blocking the tube. The cilia – tiny little hair-like projections inside the tubes – can also become damaged or infected, and become unable to move an embryo down to the uterus.

Other possible causes of damage to the fallopian tubes include an internal infection caused by, for example, a burst appendix, bowel problems, or peritonitis – inflammation of the peritoneum, which is a silk-like membrane that lines your inner abdominal wall and organs. Damage to the fallopian tubes can also be the result of surgery to remove fibroids or cysts, which can cause adhesions or scar tissue.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there is no medication or natural way to unblock tubes or repair damaged tubes. It is also not possible to “flush out” fallopian tubes.

If tests by a fertility specialist confirms that the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, the treatment options are surgery and/or IVF.

Surgery is one of the treatment options for blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. However, often times, the damage may simply be too severe, and cannot be fixed, or surgery may simply not be the optimal treatment given your unique circumstances, such as your age or other additional fertility challenges you face as a couple.

The alternative to surgery is doing IVF.

IVF treatment for blocked fallopian tubes

In essence, the IVF process bypasses the fallopian tubes to achieve a pregnancy. Very simply stated, during IV, the female partner’s eggs are collected and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is then implanted into the uterus.

While this sounds simple, the reality is that IVF treatment involves a number of steps and procedures that typically spans 28 days. It involves taking fertility medications, as well as continuous monitoring through blood tests and ultrasound scans during your IVF treatment cycle. The IVF process also includes the egg collection procedure and the collection of a sperm sample, with which the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory. After three to five days in incubation, the best fertilized eggs – called embryos – are chosen for transfer into the uterus. A pregnancy test is usually done around Day 28 of the IVF process to determine if the treatment resulted in a pregnancy.

The process of having IVF treatment is quite a journey, but when you have your IVF treatment at Cape Fertility, you will enjoy truly individualised and personalised care. We value each individual patient and provide affordable quality fertility treatment as well as higher success rates at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town.

At Cape Fertility, we use patient-friendly protocols and provide you with a customised cycle sheet, describing exactly what happens on each day, and when and how each step must be completed – from what medications should be taken and when monitoring needs to be done. This is prepared and carefully monitored by a team of fertility experts and you will have your own IVF co-ordinator to guide you through every one of the various steps of the IVF treatment.

IVF Treatment for blocked fallopian tubes

IVF is a safe and trusted medical treatment. It has been used to treat blocked fallopian tubes for more than three decades across the world, and its success rate is impressive. Since the first IVF baby was born in 1978, an estimated eight million babies have been born thanks to IVF treatment, helping millions of couples throughout the world overcome the challenge of infertility.

At Cape Fertility, we achieve some of the best IVF success rates in the world. Yet, we are always striving for higher success rates to ensure even more of our patients can experience the joy of have their own baby.

The first step in receiving IVF treatment for blocked, damaged or swollen fallopian tubes is simply to contact us by clicking here

We look forward to providing you with our signature individualised and personalised care!