Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Three Miscarriages and HSG Shows Blocked Tubes
Dear Dr. Ramirez,
I have had three miscarriages in the last couple years and have been to two fertility clinics. I have had $8,500 dollars worth of tests done and all the male testing. I was told that my tubes are blocked by one doctor and the other one says that there is no way that they can just one day unblock. I was but on meformin and told that I have pcos. I read on pcos and it said that with Clomid a pregnancy is possible. What is your opinion on this?
Thank you for your questions. You've thrown quite a lot of different things at me.
There are several issues that you have brought up. Let me see if I can answer them one at a time and give you the information that you are requesting:
1. Three miscarriages-There is an almost 40% chance of miscarriage with every pregnancy. Most are caused by a spontaneous chromosomal abnormality that occurs when the egg is dividing into an embryo. These usually lead to miscarriage within the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy. These patients will eventually be successful. A small percentage of recurrent miscarriages occur because of uterine abnormalities, hormonal abnormalities, immunological abnormalities, infectious diseases and health events like diabetes.
2. Blocked tube - Blocked tubes are evaluated by a test called an HSG (hysterosalopingogram). It is an x-ray test whereby a dye is injected into the tubes and xrays are taken as the dye flows through. If it doesn't flow through one or both tubes then that shows that the tubes are blocked. Once blocked, it is always blocked but there is an exception. Sometimes, the tube will be blocked by a mucus plug at the opening of the tube. In general, it is one side only. With increased pressure at the time of the HSG, this mucus plug can be pushed out and the tube opened. If this is the case, the HSG "helps" in clearing the tube and allowing for a natural pregnancy to occur. If pregnancy does not occur then this could not be done and that tube is probably blocked by scar tissue. The problem with one tube blocked is that the incident that caused the blockage was probably an inflammation or infection in the past, usually caused by a bacteria. These usually pass through both tubes but it affected one tube more than the other, so that one tube is blocked. That does not preclude damage in the other tube, however. As you know, it takes a very small hole to allow fluid, like the dye, to flow through. I usually counsel my patients to assume that the other tube is damaged. The inner structure can be damaged and render the tube non-functional even without it being blocked. Therefore, with any blockage, I counseled that IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is probably the best option.
3. PCOS - I have explained this pretty extensively in past questions. Please refer to some of my previous blog posts. But to summarize for you, PCO is a disorder of the ovaries whereby ovulation does not occur. For this reason, fertility medications are required to stimulate the ovary to ovulate. Clomid is one of those medications that is used but does not work on all PCO patients. Metformin only is useful in PCO patients that have an elevated insulin level. So it does not work in over 50% of PCO patients.
I hope this answers your questions.
If you don't mind, I was also told that when I had the HSG done that because I was in a lot of pain that my tubes could have contracted and acted like they were blocked. Is the possible? I have been pregnant 3 times and 2 of them were on Clomid alone. Is it possible that Clomid together with metformin would work?
HSG's are generally painful, especially if the tubes are blocked. That is because they are increasing the pressure to see if the dye will flow through. Increased pain does not indicate tubal spasm, however, tubal spasm can prevent the dye from flowing through. We see this most often when injecting dye at the time of a laparoscopy. It is uncommon to see tubal spasm in both tubes, however. If you are concerned that you may have had tubal spams, then you should have the test repeated to confirm.
If the tubes are blocked, legitimately and not due to tubal spasm, then Clomid and/or metformin will not help. If the sperm and egg cannot get together, then fertilization cannot occur, and hence, pregnancy will not ensue. If the HSG result was due to tubal spasm, then it is possible they could help, so the tubes are the key element in this. Try to clear these issues with your specialist and proceed according to his/her recommendations. Good luck!
Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.