Thousands of couples around the world experience infertility, which is defined as the failure to conceive a child — regardless of the cause — after one year of trying. Understandably, this is an extremely stressful and difficult problem; especially since possibilities like adoption and fostering are not available, preferable or practical for all couples.

The good news is that various surgical options exist that can help correct infertility, and pave the way for couples to start (or perhaps continue) building a family. Naturally, the starting point for exploring any potential surgical option is by determining whether the issue is with the man or woman. Below, we highlight a few common surgical options for each gender.

Common Surgical Options for Women

  • Tuboplasty

Tuboplasty — which is also known as tubal reversal surgery — unblocks fallopian tubes, which is often the result of a fairly common condition known as endometriosis. This occurs when endometrial tissue forms on the outside of the uterus, which in addition to preventing pregnancy, causes significant pelvic pain. There are multiple types of tuboplasty surgery, including a procedure known as “balloon tuboplasty.” This involves inserting a balloon into a woman’s vagina (through the cervix) until it reaches the fallopian tube, at which time it is inflated and therefore clears the blockage. Natural conception after successful tuboplasty surgery within a year is quite high.

Also note that only a board certified microsurgeon can perform a tuboplasty. Most OB/GYNs do not have this level of training and expertise, but a small number do and can provide you with more information.

  • Fimbrioplasty

Another common surgery to increase the chances of natural pregnancy is fimbrioplasty. This involves opening up tubes that have been blocked due to fusion of the fimbriae (the ends of the fallopian tubes). Because of this blockage, eggs cannot enter the ovary and therefore fertilization cannot take place.

Common Surgical Options for Men

  • Varicocelectomy

This is a relatively minor outpatient surgery to repair a condition known as varicocles, which is when a man’s scrotal veins become dilated. Once repaired, sperm is allowed to move more freely, which can increase sperm concentration and sperm structure — both of which increase the chances of successful fertilization.

  • Epididymovasostomy

A epididymovasostomy is performed by a microsurgeon in order to remove a blockage in the epididymis. Several factors can contribute to this condition, including a prior injury to the pelvis or pelvic area, or if the man had a vasectomy. Men who carry the cystic fibrosis gene may also experience epididymis. Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that leads to persistent lung infections, and over time increasingly restricts an individual’s ability to breathe.

Next Steps

To learn more about any of these common surgical methods that may help you and your partner start or continue your family, speak with your OB/GYN (if you are a woman) or your family doctor (if you are a man). You will receive additional information, and if necessary, referral to an experienced and board certified microsurgeon who will provide further insight and guidance. Help with solving infertility is indeed possible!