One of the things that surprises me about infertility – especially in Africa – is the assumption that it is the woman’s fault. Cue allegations such as the ridiculous ones, found here …
Today’s feature addresses a cause of infertility, in both men and women: tubal blockages. Because of the differences in the anatomies of men and women, tubal blockages manifest differently – but the result is pretty much the same; i.e. fertility is problematic.
With women, damaged fallopian tubes will result in infertility. Fallopian tubes are usually damaged by scarring or blockages. A few things to know about this, which is also known as tubal factor infertility (TFI):
– a blockage in the fallopian tube, will prevent the sperm from meeting the egg; ergo, no pregnancy, because there is no egg to be fertilised
– it can be caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, endometriosis or abdominal surgery
– an ectopic pregnancy, in which the egg begins to grow inside the fallopian tube, could also block or damage the tube
– a uteurine fibroid may constitute a blockage
– you/your gynaecologist have to specifically be searching for this, in order to find it; it won’t randomly show up on a test
– a woman with serious damage to her fallopian tubes, may experience serious pelvic pain
– TFI is reportedly the most common cause of infertility in women
Treatment will depend on what caused the TFI, in the first place. So, this will range from the prescription and use of antibiotics, to tubal cannulation, to surgical procedures to unblock or remove a part of the tube, to IVF.
With men, tubal blockage indicates that the tubes through which sperm passes, is affected. The implications are:
– the sperm isn’t even leaving the man’s body, along with the semen, in order to fertilise an egg or more; this is known as azoospermia
– it doesn’t mean he has low sperm count; it means he has no sperm count (also known as “shooting blanks”)
– it doesn’t mean he is impotent
– it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is sterile
– there are different types of azoospermia, depending on the cause of the blockage
– it may be caused by a host of things including diabetes, sickle cell anaemia or a vasectomy
– genetics may be a factor
– it won’t randomly show up on a test; this has to be specifically searched for
Treatment will depend on the type of azoospermia that a particular man suffers (from). Some cases may be treated and reversed with surgery. In the instances where surgery would make no difference, sperm retrieval and assisted reproductive technologies (IVF and ICSI) may be used to achieve biological parenthood.
Please, don’t self-diagnose and fly into a panic. This may or may not be the reason you’re unable to have children … book an appointment with your doctor TODAY!
You can find other posts addressing some other causes of infertility, in the ‘Related Posts’ below.
PS: If you suffer or know someone who suffered tubal blockages or you had your happy ending despite this, please feel free to leave a comment below.
DISCLAIMER: The afore-mentioned information is not intended to replace consultation with a physician or to diagnose or treat any condition. Please, see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision.