Fallopian Tube Dysfunction

The fallopian tubes play an essential role in conception. After the egg is released by the ovary, it travels through the fallopian tube where it may be fertilized by the sperm. The pre-embryo is transported through the tube within about 3 days, until the endometrium is thick enough to receive it.

The fallopian tubes can become physically damaged or they may simply have a functional disorder, both of which can impair fertility or result in ectopic pregnancy.

  • Physical defects may be associated with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, lower abdominal surgery, intrauterine device or an ectopic pregnancy. The result is scarring along the inner walls of the fallopian tubes, disrupting the normal functioning of the cells lining the tubes, or obstructing the passage completely.

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  • Functional defects may be due to either muscle tension of the tubes, or mucus accumulation in the tubes. It is a function of progesterone to clear the mucus in the tubes and relax the muscles to allow the smooth passage of the pre-embryo into the uterus.

Treatment of fallopian tube dysfunction

If the damage to the tubes is extensive, IVF is the only option. If it is only partial, microsurgery is considered a good option. A study in China has shown that the best clinical outcome occurs with a combination of microsurgery and Chinese medicine.

For the treatment of functional disorders of the tubes, the use of Chinese medicine alone is very effective. Acupuncture may be used on the lower abdomen to relax the fallopian tubes, and/or herbal treatment can clear away excessive mucus production, increase blood circulation in the tubes, and raise the body’s progesterone production, as necessary. 

Treatment of hydrosalpinx (excessive fluids in the fallopian tubes, which leak into the uterus, making the surface of the endometrium too slippery for implantation) with Chinese medicine should be considered before resorting to more invasive procedures, where the tubes are tied or even removed and IVF is carried out.