Being aware of an issue that could potentially lower your odds of conceiving only adds to the worry. Can women with only one (functioning) fallopian tube get pregnant naturally?
What are fallopian tubes?
Fallopian tubes are a pair of tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus. Women will usually have two ovaries and two fallopian tubes. During each menstrual cycle, an egg will be released from one of the ovaries and then travel down the relevant fallopian tube to the uterus. If the egg cell is met by sperm on the way there, conception may occur and the fertilized egg will then start to grow bigger as it reaches the uterus, implants there, and remains there for the duration of pregnancy. Women can end up with only one working fallopian tube for many reasons. Examples include a previous ectopic pregnancy and the subsequent removal of the tube, pelvic surgery, an infection that blocked one of the fallopian tubes, and even a birth defect. Some women are born with only one fallopian tube.
Getting pregnant with one fallopian tube
Women who have one functioning fallopian tube will generally be able to get pregnant naturally if their other circumstances also line up. That means:
- One or both ovaries are present
- The woman ovulates regularly
- The remaining fallopian tube is healthy
- No other fertility issues are at play with the woman or her partner
Women with two healthy ovaries but only one fallopian tube do need to realize that while they may ovulate every month, the eggs released from the ovary that does not have a functioning fallopian tube will not be able to be fertilized. Does this mean that women with one tube have half the odds of getting pregnant compared to women with two healthy tubes, or that getting pregnant will take them twice as long?
Ovulation doesn't switch sides every month!
It has long been assumed that ovulation alternates between the left and right ovary in a neat, predictable fashion one side one cycle, the next side the following cycle. Studies show that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, there is about a 50 percent chance that a woman will switch sides and thus ovulate on the side that did not produce a mature follicle during the previous month. Now that we know ovulation doesn't follow an orderly left/right pattern, it isn't possible to say that women with one fallopian tube have half the chance of getting pregnant. Providing you take all the sane health steps every woman who would like to get pregnant should take and you have no health or fertility problems, there is absolutely no reason to assume you will have trouble getting pregnant only because you have one tube less than most women.
That's good news, right? Now, if you do have other health or fertility issues or your partner does discussing those with the relevant specialist is certainly a good idea. It is possible that a low sperm count in combination with having only one tube could mean that you have trouble conceiving, for example. It might be encouraging to hear that doctors advise women with one fallopian tube to seek further medical assessment for infertility only after they have been trying to conceive for a year. That's the same time frame that also applies to every other woman under 35. Women over 35 can get checked out after six months of trying. Before you start to think about seeing doctors, increase your chances of pregnancy by:
- Taking 400 mg of folic acid a day
- Maintaining a healthy diet your partner too
- Exercising regularly your partner too
- Not smoking or drinking again, that goes for your other half as well
- Detecting ovulation with ovulation tests, an ovulation calendar, or fertility charting
- Having intercourse regularly