How to get pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes


Among the many possible causes of infertility, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes are common. Fortunately, it is still possible to get pregnant even if you have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.

In this article, we take explain why your fallopian tubes are so important in getting pregnant; how these delicate tubes become damaged or blocked; and the two ways in which to get pregnant even with blocked fallopian tubes, which are repairing your fallopian tubes with advanced microsurgery or bypassing the fallopian tubes through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

Why fallopian tubes are so important in getting pregnant

The fallopian tubes are a vital part of achieving pregnancy in natural unassisted conception. At the end of each fallopian tube, there are finger-like projections that ‘collect’ the egg ovulated from the adjacent ovary. In order to successfully do this, fallopian tubes must be able to move freely, not stuck to the pelvic wall, uterus or ovaries by adhesions.

After the egg is collected, the fallopian tube keeps the egg safe until it is fertilised by sperm, where after it nurtures the resulting embryo over the next five days as it moves through the length of the tube to the uterus. To function as an incubator where the egg and sperm meet and the initial stages of embryo development takes place, the tubes must be open (patent). In addition, the inside lining of the fallopian tubes must act as a conveyor system, moving the developing embryo to the uterus where it implants 3 to 5 days after ovulation.

If your fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, the egg and the sperm are prevented from interacting; proper embryo development is impeded; the proper movement of embryos along the tube to the uterus is obstructed; and implantation in the uterus is hindered – all of which can prevent a pregnancy.

In medical terms, this is called tubal factor infertility.

How fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked

As thin as the lead of a pencil, your fallopian tubes are delicate structures and are easily become blocked or damaged

Blockages may be due to scarring from infection or previous abdominal or pelvic surgery especially when the fallopian tubes or ovaries were involved.

The main cause of tubal infertility, however, is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is also associated with an increased risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancy in which the fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

Also known as one of the causes of fallopian tube damage is the use of the intra-uterine contraceptive device (contraceptive “loop”), especially when there is more than one sexual partner. Other possible causes include endometriosis and sexually transmittable disease such as gonorrhoea resulting in infection of the fallopian tubes.

Now that we understand how crucially important your fallopian tubes are in conception, and realise how very delicate and easily damaged they are, it is clear that getting pregnant with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes will require the help of specialists.

How to get pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes

The great news is that there are two options for treatment to enable you to get pregnancy even with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes: tubal surgery and IVF treatment.

Tubal surgery

Depending on the position of the damage or blockage – and the severity of the damage – it may be possible to repair a fallopian tube. Fortunately, there is an alternative to open surgery: minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy.

Minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy involves looking directly into your abdomen and pelvis using a small camera that is placed through an incision in your umbilicus. This allows a specialist to evaluate and potentially treat gynaecological problems such as scar tissue, adhesions and endometriosis.

For this operation you will require a general anaesthetic, but in most cases you will go home the same day. After the incision is made next to the navel, the laparoscope is inserted into the abdominal cavity. Anywhere between one and three more incisions are made to allow access to other surgical instruments, for example, a laser. Once a diagnosis is made or the problem is removed (or both), the instruments are taken out, and the incisions sewn shut.

Most women experience bloating, abdominal discomfort and/or back and shoulder tip pain for 24-48 hours after surgery. You may also feel abdominal bloating, nausea, abdominal cramps, or constipation. Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days to one week.

It is absolutely essential that only a competent qualified fertility specialist perform this advanced surgery.

Medfem Fertility Clinic’s specialists are experts and leaders in minimally invasive surgery. It is one of the first institutions in South Africa to have developed a fully comprehensive operating theatre with all the necessary equipment to perform minimally invasive surgery. The specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic have all undergone extensive training abroad and teach endoscopic surgery on an ongoing basis to visiting gynaecologists.

You can read more about tubal surgery at

If there is extensive damage to your fallopian tubes and surgery is not feasible, IVF is another option.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Treatment

IVF treatment was originally developed for women with damaged or missing fallopian tubes and since 1983, more than 5 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF treatment. The success rates of IVF treatment is comparable – and even superior – to those of nature.

In the simplest terms, during IVF treatment the egg and sperm are fertilised outside of the body to form an embryo, which is then transferred to the uterus to hopefully implant and become a pregnancy.

However, IVF treatment is not a single event, but rather a series of procedures that are completed over five stages to complete a treatment cycle. IVF treatments commence with a course of hormone therapy to stimulate the development of several follicles in the ovary. Under ultrasound guidance, these are then punctured with a specialised needle to retrieve eggs, which are then fertilised with sperm in a petri dish to create several embryos. After three to five days in an incubator, one or two of these embryos are transferred through the vagina to the uterus, where implantation occurs and pregnancy begins. The whole process from commencement of ovarian stimulation up to the embryo transfer stage usually takes just under three weeks.

You can read more about IVF treatment and its five stages here

Which treatment is right for you?

So how will you know if your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, and which treatment is right for you?

A qualified fertility specialist will be able to determine if your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, using a pelvic x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The test involves the injection of dye into the uterine cavity and a simultaneous x-ray of the uterus and tubes, allowing the specialist to see any damage or blockage. The position and severity of the damage or blockage will determine which treatment is right for you.

As such, your first step to getting pregnant with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes is a consultation with an IVF specialist to determine the extent of the damage or blockage and to discuss your treatment options.

Medfem Fertility Clinic offers both advanced microsurgical treatments as well as in vitro fertilisation as therapy for tubal factor infertility.

Whether surgery or IVF treatment is the right option for you, it is our mission at Medfem to provide state-of-the-art fertility treatment, in a caring and comfortable environment, with One Goal: To Help You Build a Healthy Family. We are proud of our high rate of success that has seen us assist in more than 16,000 successful pregnancies!

It is as simple as contacting us to book an initial consultation by clicking here or contacting us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

We look forward to meeting you!


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