Fallopian tubes are a crucial component of the reproduction process. Those who don’t have one or both of them likely have many questions about their reproductive future, specifically whether or not you can get pregnant without fallopian tubes. The answer depends on a few factors, and there may be more options available than you realize.
First, it’s helpful to understand a little more about how the fallopian tubes work when trying to conceive. “The fallopian tubes are structures which extend from the uterus and allow the passage of an egg (also known as an oocyte) from the ovary to the uterus,” Dr. Joshua Stewart, MD, reproductive medicine expert at the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, tells Romper via email. “Fertilization of an egg with a sperm actually occurs in the fallopian tube.”
However, not everyone has full use of their fallopian tubes. “Women who have had severe or repeated infections, particularly gonorrhea or chlamydia or a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease, can have tubal disease and dysfunction due to scarring of the fallopian tubes,” Dr. Taraneh Nazem, MD, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist at RMA of New York, tells Romper via email. In addition, endometriosis, fibroids, or scarring from a previous surgery can interfere with the Fallopian tubes’ ability to function, as Dr. Nazem explains.
In some instances, surgical removal of the fallopian tubes is necessary for a person’s health. “Additionally, some individuals may have had a fallopian tube removed or partially removed due to certain conditions, such as an ectopic pregnancy, or procedures, such as a tubal ligation,” says Dr. Stewart.
A person without fallopian tubes will not get pregnant through sexual intercourse alone. “Without medical intervention pregnancy is not possible,” Dr. Mao, medical director of the UW Medicine Women’s Clinic at Harborview Medical Center, tells Romper via email, as “there is no way for the sperm to reach the egg in a natural way or for the egg to travel to the uterus,” she explains.
However, it is possible to get pregnant without fallopian tubes with medical assistance such as in-vitro fertilization. “With Assisted Reproductive Technology, doctors can use medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce many eggs (rather than one at a time in a natural cycle) and collect the eggs when they are mature,” explains Dr. Mao. “These eggs are then fertilized with sperm and the resulting embryo(s) can be placed in the uterus to grow normally,” she explains. Of course it’s important to be mindful that everyone’s situation is different, and not every person without fallopian tubes will be able to carry a pregnancy in this way.
So even if a fallopian tube removal is the best choice for your health, or they are present but not fully functioning for some reason, it does not necessarily mean your chances of pregnancy are over forever. Have an in-depth discussion with your doctor to fully understand your options regarding Assisted Reproductive Technology, such as IVF, to go over the available procedures, success rates, and costs.
Dr. Jennie Mao, MD, medical director of the UW Medicine Women’s Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle
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