Pelvic factor infertility refers to physical abnormalities affecting the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes that contribute to infertility. At the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center, our specialists have years of expertise in evaluating and diagnosing pelvic factor infertility.
Pelvic Conditions That Affect Fertility
Conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive organs can impact her ability to get pregnant, including:
- Endometriosis: In this common condition, tissue similar to the uterine lining develops in other places. This tissue may grow on the outside of the uterus, on or in ovaries or fallopian tubes and elsewhere in the abdomen. In addition to affecting fertility, endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain. Read more about endometriosis.
- Pelvic adhesions: Scarring from surgery or infection can block the fallopian tubes, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization. This scar tissue can also lead to an ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo develops in a fallopian tube.
- Intrauterine adhesions: Scarring within the uterus can interfere with conception or implantation of the embryo, affecting the ability to sustain pregnancy.
- Fibroid tumors: Also called uterine fibroids, these benign growths in the uterus can affect your ability to conceive and maintain a successful pregnancy.
Testing for Pelvic Factor Infertility
An accurate diagnosis is important in developing an effective treatment plan to enhance your fertility and help you achieve a successful pregnancy. To diagnose pelvic conditions, our doctors may recommend one or more imaging tests:
- Hysterosalpingography (HSG): For this test, we inject a liquid contrast medium (substance that shows up on X-rays) through the cervix. The liquid fills the uterus and fallopian tubes while we take X-rays. The images will show any blockages in the fallopian tubes or abnormalities in the uterus. We perform HSGs early in the menstrual cycle, after blood flow has stopped, but no later than the tenth day of your cycle.
- Sonohysterography: We inject saline through the cervix into the uterus to enlarge it while we perform a vaginal ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images, which help us better visualize the shape and condition of the uterus. We perform this test early in the menstrual cycle, after blood flow has stopped and before ovulation.
- Hysteroscopy: We insert a hysteroscope, a thin, lighted tube, through the cervix and into your uterus to provide a direct view of its interior. We perform hysteroscopy early in the menstrual cycle, after blood flow has stopped.
- Laparoscopy: We use a laparoscope – a thin, lighted telescopic device – to view the pelvic organs, including the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Our experts insert the laparoscope into the abdominal cavity through a tiny incision in the navel. We can also use this procedure to perform minimally invasive surgery to correct pelvic abnormalities.
To make an appointment with a Washington University fertility and reproductive medicine specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.