Correcting Hidden Infertility Conditions Related to Uterine Abnormalities
Uterine abnormalities such as fibroids, polyps, uterine septum, or other congenital abnormalities can lower a woman’s chances for conception or increase the chances for miscarriage. These abnormalities can make it difficult for an embryo to implant or be nurtured during pregnancy. Fortunately for patients with these uterine abnormalities, surgical correction can in most cases correct the fertility problem and allow normal conception and pregnancy. As part of a routine infertility investigation, Dr. James Douglas will search for these common uterine abnormalities:
Uterine fibroids, benign growths in the uterus, usually form during childbearing years. The size, number and rate of growth vary, and as many as 75 percent of women will have a fibroid detected in their lifetimes. Dr. Douglas may discover uterine fibroids during fertility diagnosis procedures, and will advise you as to the treatment he recommends. Fibroids don’t necessarily cause infertility and may not require any action at all. Certain presentations of fibroids, however, may interfere with embryo implantation, transfer of sperm or fertilization in the fallopian tube. Dr. Douglas performs minimally invasive fertility surgery to remove some types of uterine fibroids.
You may have been born with a uterine septum, an upside down triangle of tissue that divides the uterus into two sections. Getting pregnant is not an issue, but a uterine septum may make it difficult to sustain a pregnancy. Women with a uterine septum may experience recurrent miscarriage. Dr. Douglas identifies uterine septum during hysterosalpingogram, which also makes it possible to evaluate the fallopian tubes. We can correct this uterine abnormality with a minimally invasive surgical procedure called hysteroscopy.
Intrauterine Scarring and Asherman’s Syndrome
Intrauterine scarring is scar tissue that forms within the uterus and is most commonly the result of an injury to the uterine cavity by a severe intrauterine infection, an extensive D&C procedure, or other intrauterine surgery. As a part of the normal healing process after an injury, the walls of the uterus may stick together to form adhesions. These intrauterine adhesions can be limited to a few distinct bands of scar tissue, or they can affect the entire uterine cavity. This can sometimes cause the endometrial lining to be too thin for an embryo to attach. In severe cases the scarring and adhesions can be so extensive that there is a complete cessation of menstrual flow. Severe cases of intrauterine scarring are called Asherman’s syndrome.
A polyp is an overgrowth of tissue in the lining or endometrium of the uterus. Even though this tissue is considered to be “normal” in origin, fertility specialists consider the best treatment to be surgical removal of the polyp. Most polyps that are very small do not represent a problem with fertility. However, large polyps – or multiple polyps – can interfere with fertility, increase the chance for miscarriage and cause heavy or irregular bleeding, or bleeding between menstrual cycles.
Hostile Cervical Mucus
Another cause of female infertility is hostile cervical mucus. Cervical mucus that is too thick can prevent sperm from passing through the cervix and into the uterine cavity. Hostile cervical mucus can occur due to the presence of antisperm antibodies, infection, low hormone levels, damage to the cervix from previous surgeries, or abnormal sperm. Dr. Douglas can perform post-coital testing to determine whether hostile cervical mucus plays a role in a couple’s infertility problem. Uterine abnormalities, often symptomless and benign conditions, can interfere with the reproductive process. When anatomical or cervical conditions contribute to infertility, Dr. Douglas will present a plan to correct or circumvent uterine abnormalities. Contact us at IVF Plano to schedule a consultation with fertility specialist Dr. Jim Douglas.