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Nicole the Fertile Chick: Team 1 or No Tubers

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“Everything looks fine, but there is a partial blockage of the left tube” was the verdict after my first hysteroscopy, five months into my marriage. Everything the doctor said after delivering this bombshell flew right over my head. One of my worst nightmares had just become reality. I had a blocked tube. It didn’t matter that the doctor said it was just a partial blockage. That it was blocked at all was bad enough for me. Less than a year later, I had a combined hysteroscopy and laparoscopy in a much better hospital. This time the verdict was worse; “Significant uterine adhesions, and full blockage of the left fallopian tube”. Most of the adhesions were cleared during the procedure, but there was nothing done about the blockage. I was devastated, and tearfully asked my doctor what we could do to unblock my tube. He brushed off any suggestion to try any surgical means to do this, assuring me that I could very well conceive with just one tube.

I spent many-a-day-and-night wondering about the possible root cause of my tubal blockage. Whilst it was easy to blame the adhesions arising from the myomectomy (fibroid removal surgery) I had had the year before, I wondered if it had perhaps been the fibroids themselves. I also had cause to cast my mind back on the yeast infections I had had in my younger days, and wondered if they were to blame. The truth is any of these could have been responsible, except the yeast infections, which do not, on their own, cause tubal blockage. I read about Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) being the number one cause of tubal blockage, and obsessed about whether I had ever had this silent fertility assassin, responsible for about 100,000 cases of female infertility per year. I had never had an STD before, and wondered if I could safely rule out PID, considering it is almost always the direct result of such STDs as gonorrhea or chlamydia. But I later read that there were other ways this dreaded infection could be contracted, one of which was my previous abdominal surgery. In the end, I realized that looking back would only drive me crazy, without getting any results. It was time to look forward.

After internalizing it for a few weeks, I proceeded to share the news with some of my close friends, and I was shocked to hear that 2 of them had been reproducing with just 1 tube, after having lost the other to ectopic pregnancies earlier in their marriages. One of them had just had her third baby, and the other was pregnant with her second. I was so relieved, I felt like I was walking on air. So that meant there was hope for me after all! My doctor placed me on various clomid and injectibles cycles, to encourage ovulation from both ovaries, thus increasing my conception chances from the 50% I was left with post tubal-blockage diagnosis, to something closer to 100%. Even though this didn’t work for me, it did work for some other members of a group I had joined on an online forum.

On a few occasions, I was tempted to explore options to unblock my tube. A close friend, and subsequently a colleague, both told me how their hitherto blocked tubes had been flushed open during routine HSG tests, and they had conceived shortly after. Apart from the 2 of them, I found so many other instances online, whereby women who had been trying to conceive for a long time, conceived the cycle after a HSG test. The rationale being that the injected dye helps flush out any debris that could be causing minor blockage. I ran this by my doctor, and he explained to me that for full blockage like mine, the HSG dye would not even pass through at all, so it would almost be of no use. I had to kill that idea. But I sometimes wonder.

On another occasion, I caught another colleague of mine researching some so-called solution from an online pop-up on her screen. The drug, in whatever format it was, was guaranteeing a full remedy for any form of tubal blockage. I tried to talk her out of purchasing this suspect item that we had limited information about, but her mind appeared made up, especially as the product had a lot of success testimonies from women the world over, including Nigeria. Her Mother must have been a praying woman, because not only did her card payment not go through, she couldn’t convince any of her siblings in the States to help with this dodgy purchase.

For women with bilateral tubal blockage (both tubes), the situation is a bit trickier, as their chances are slashed from 50% (for women with 1 functional tube), to pretty much zero. Clomid, and other ovarian stimulants, for a woman in this situation, are pretty much useless, as the eggs produced basically have no travel route. Surgical solutions for bilateral damage almost end up being a circular reference, as not only is there no guarantee that the blockage will be cleared, you now end up with the other fall-outs of abdominal surgery, such as adhesions, scar tissue, and even infection. With respect to non-surgical methods, I have come across quite a few online. Some are herbal, which, on the face of it, don’t sound too bad, especially as they involve such natural herbs as ginger root, hawthorn, peony root, wild yam root, etc., which, if they don’t do anything else, will at least contribute to your body’s overall wellbeing. Other methods refer to various types of massages and physical therapy. I do not personally know anyone who had their tubal blockage cleared through any of these alternative methods, but they must have worked for some people, to still remain in relevant discussion.

When my various clomid and injectibles cycles failed, my first plan was to try IUI, but in my consultation with my doctor, he explained that it would be a waste of money for me, especially with my already less than 50% standing (less than 50%, because of the other hormonal issues I had, in addition to the tubal blockage). For me, IUI would only be marginally better than sex. Using his words, in an 8-hurdle race, if sex only helps you scale 1 hurdle, IUI would only help me scale 3 at best. His recommendation was to either continue trying naturally, or scale at least 6 hurdles through IVF (pretty much a go big or go home scenario).

As IVF bypasses the tubes, it is one of the most proffered solutions for tubal damage. A dear friend I met on an online forum lost a tube in an ectopic pregnancy in 2010. A year later, she lost the other tube to another ectopic pregnancy. All of us on the forum were so devastated for her, and it seemed like the end of the world. She was a low-income earner and thought IVF was out of reach for her. Thank God for the NHS, through which she had her IVF cycle, and subsequently her gorgeous twin boys.

The bottom line is that whether you’re a Team One Tuber, or a Team No Tuber, there is hope for you. Having tubal issues is no longer equal to an infertility sentence. What is important is for you and your Ob/Gyn to assess your situation, and decide which of the various options would be best for you.

Good luck…and baby dust to all ☺

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Steven Frame

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

26 Comments

  1. KWAKWACITY

    March 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Oh Nicole…God bless you!!! I know I do have PCOS but I haven’t checked my tubes…I think I have to.

    • Nicole

      March 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Yes, Kwakwacity. It would be a good idea to check, to rule anything out. Good luck!

    • amina

      March 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      I have pcos too. I have been ttc for over a year now. I did check my tubes and there was no blockage. Im the writer highlighted talking to her friends about it. When you do talk about your challenges ttc people tend to open up about their experiences and you get to learn a lot and hopefully get encouraged.

  2. Nefertiti

    March 2, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Hmmmmm….Nicole hit the nail in the head for me. please what’s NHS?

    • Debz

      March 2, 2015 at 11:38 am

      National Health Service in the UK

  3. Nefertiti

    March 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

    On the head*

  4. Rossie ele

    March 2, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I had the case of bilateral tubes blockage, I went for this HSG test last year 2014 and can see what is happening in my system on the scanning screen, The tubes where opened and still open, am preg with a baby boy now. its all about you, determination.

    • Nicole

      March 2, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      Huge congrats, Rossie ele! You are one of the success stories! Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy!

  5. Maye freshman

    March 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Thank you for the piece ,is quite encouraging.

  6. penelopeia

    March 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    So my OBGYN booked me for an HSG test, after dutifully tending to my lady garden almost looking like a porn star down there, PS my hubby works through the bushes and thorns. I lay on the examination table naked, legs wide open and the Dr, doing his own thing. I remember it like it was just yesterday, it was so painful with the speculum(sp) inside me. Minutes later Dr. told me to go an wear my clothes and sit at the waiting area. He called my back to the consulting room only to tell me that the process was not sucessfull cos my uterus is too high and slippery, so he gave me a new date for a re-trail. That was the last he saw me, few months later I got pregnant with my baby girl who is now 8 months and full of giggles. Am starting TTC with my next though my menses is not in.

    • Nicole

      March 2, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      I love hearing stories like this! Congrats Penelopeia!

  7. shema

    March 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I am schedule for ‘flushing’ on Saturday am a little freaked out. how is the procedure done pls, and what do i expect abeg..

    • Nicole

      March 2, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      No need to be worried, shema. Yes, it can be quite uncomfortable, and in some cases painful, but nothing a good hot water bottle can’t take off. I’m guessing you’re having a HSG, in which case dye will be passed through your tubes to check for blockage or flush out debris. Good luck!

  8. gil

    March 2, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Hmmmmmmm, in my 40’s nw, having delayed getting married bcos I had to work to see everybody through school, got married at 33 in 2006 bt multiple uterine fibroids blocking everywhere dit give me a chance to get pregnant. , had de fibroids removed 4yrs ago but too much damage was done to my uterine wall, neck of womb and others during surgery .I Jus had a scan done nw new fibroids growing. I jus tire , na only me!!!!!.

    • Nicole

      March 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      I’m really sorry about all you’ve had to go through, gil. The unfortunate part about fibroids is that they do regrow. My guess is that you’ve tried IVF, but your uterine scarring might have made implantation difficult. Have you considered surrogacy? I think you should discuss all options with your doctor. As for the fibroids, if at all you have to remove them again, I would suggest opting for a noninvasive method, to prevent further trauma to your uterus. Good luck!

    • gil

      March 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      Tanks a lot.

    • Lady B

      March 11, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Gil, please don’t be discouraged, I have been TTC for 8 years now, and I have a number of friends who went thru the same situation as you, one had her fibroids removed and the doctors advised that her Uterus be discarded, her hubby’s sisters put their foot down and said no way… The insisted the doctors leave the Uterus in her they way it was, even if it had become nylon bag… Guess what she dis IVF And with her tattered womb carried a bouncing, healthy strong bodied baby boy to term. I have another doctor friend whose fibroids were so large that we bought her baby things believing she was preggo…guess what her husband had low sperm count and none of his sperm has normal forms… Guess what she did ivf and is a proud mother of a dazzling little girl that she carried to term wt her tattered womb. What am I saying, the state of your womb doesn’t matter, God has so made the Uterus to be so rugged, it can carry to term even if it’s torn…have faith and don’t loose focus..

  9. Mercy

    March 3, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Really touching story. My pelvic scan result shows that all is fine except that there’s a mild fluid in the POD(pouch of Douglas). Features of PID. I finished taking my drugs and I’m hoping for the best.

    • Nicole

      March 4, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Wishing you all the best, Mercy!

  10. oluwayemi

    March 3, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Anytime I read this, my mind is always at rest, I just lost my left tube to ectopic pregnancy last week on Monday after three years of waiting but I still trust in Almighty God with just one.

    • Nicole

      March 4, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Sorry about your ectopic pregnancy, oluwayemi. But you still have 1 tube, so your chances are still good. Good luck!

  11. Ola

    March 3, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Pls mercy wht drugs where u given I had same

  12. Ada

    March 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks Nicole for this write up, trying for a baby at 35. Did HSG last year and the doctor said I had Intrauterine Adhesions in the lower segment. But I’m worried about going for the surgery to separate them. Read about infections and all that could occur in the process. I know I don’t have much options in this regard. Scared

    • Nicole

      March 4, 2015 at 11:05 am

      Hi Ada. The uterine adhesions can be cleared via a laparoscopy, and not open surgery. With that, you won’t have to contend with the save risks of the open surgery. Ask your doctor about this.

  13. Ogec

    March 4, 2015 at 3:55 am

    Nicole,
    it is well with you.
    Please I need to talk to you on this infertility issue.
    my email is [email protected]. Please send me a notification so that we can chat. thanks.

    • Nicole

      March 4, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks Ogec. I’ll shoot you an email in the next 24 hours.

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