The moment I left the ultrasound I typed “bilateral hydrosalpinges” into Google – my heart racing at the anticipation of what I would find out (I prayed there would be good news – maybe she was wrong, I’m sure there’s an alternative to IVF). Before that moment I had never even considered what I thought about assisted reproduction. I wasn’t against it but it seemed so distant from me (and expensive and emotionally exhausting). The first time I googled the diagnosis (sitting in the car outside the clinic) I found myself in a perpetual state of panic – trying to focus on the information but each sentence triggering further panic. I am not a crier – but I was sobbing uncontrollably.
The prognosis seemed bleak. Hydrosalpinx (singular) basically means there is fluid “hydro” in the tube – due to the fallopian tube being blocked at the distal end (the end closest to the ovary), usually from past infection causing inflammation and scar tissue. The delicate fimbria at the end of the tube often become fused together. Because the tube is blocked at the distal end, there is nowhere for the fluid to go. The tube becomes swollen and distended.
People can still fall pregnant naturally if only one tube is blocked – however the chances are significantly reduced. However, mine is bilateral (both sides). Meaning the egg and the sperm can never meet.
Worse news – “ultrasound visible hydrosalpinx” have a poorer prognosis for surgical treatment. Mine were both clearly seen on the ultrasound. And although one was “small” the other one apparently was much larger and most likely adhered to my right ovary.
Surgery to open or fix the tube has a poor success rate (for cases of hydrosalpinx at least – there are other types of tubal blockages that are more successfully fixed).
There’s still hope to get pregnant– but probably only with IVF. And if you have hydrosalpinx your chances of IVF being successful is reduced by about 50%, while your chance of miscarriage goes up by about 50%, compared to those without hydrosalpinx. The proposed explanation is that the fluid from the hydrosalpinx can leak back into the uterus and either; (1) is toxic to the embryo and/or (2) the fluid washes away the embryo and disrupts implantation.
The solution – the gold standard these days appears to be removal of the hydrosalpinx (which means removal of part of the fallopian tube). In the past, especially before IVF, doctors tried to open the tubes. But the success rates were very low (I believe around 10% depending on the size of your hydrosalpinx). Since IVF came about – it is much more effective and efficient to remove the tubes and go directly to IVF (according to my research and both specialists I have seen).
So, I am panicking – I am trying to read all this information and take it in, while at the same time forgetting how to spell ‘hydrosalpinx’. It is all so fresh. I keep getting distracted by thoughts “I’m healthy, I’ve never had symptoms”, “How can this happen?”, “It’s not fair”, “I won’t cope”, “What if I can never have a baby?”.
Panic. Crying. Researching. More panic. Back to researching. Frantically trying to read something that would make me feel better. Those first few days – it seemed the more well informed I became, the greater sense of hopelessness and dread.