Tubal flushing is the process of examining the fallopian tubes and uterus for blockages and then flushing out any debris to ensure they are open. The procedure itself involves a doctor utilising a pressurised oil or water based solution that passes through the uterus and fallopian tubes under observation.
The Benefits of Tubal Flushing
For women finding it difficult to fall pregnant tubal flushing can be an effective procedure to increase the likelihood of conceiving. It is a technique particularly used with women who have unexplained subfertility, endometriosis and those who have undergone previous unsuccessful IVF treatment cycles. Demeter Fertility uses medical grade poppy seed oil for tubal flushing in conjunction with IVF to maximise the chances of pregnancy as demonstrated in a number of studies and papers.
Falling pregnant can be complex and investigating factors that may be inhibiting your chances of success of falling pregnant are critical. Checking for blocked tubes is a critical investigative step. In normal circumstances a woman's eggs will travel freely down from the ovaries unrestricted and reach the uterus. However, if the fallopian tubes are too narrow or there are blockages this will restrict the flow of a woman's eggs and severely reduce the likelihood for conceiving. Tubal flushing seeks to assess the impact of narrow fallopian tubes and has been found to significantly improve pregnancy rates.
What are the types of fluid used when flushing the fallopian tubes?
There are a number of fluid types that can be utilised to flush the fallopian tubes. The most basic fluid type is saline (salty water). In some cases doctors use indigo carmine or methylene blue dye. At Demeter Fertility we use lipiodol or medical grade poppy seed oil.
Each type of fluid has purported benefits and poppy seed oil has been seen to demonstrate superior outcomes. A 2017 New England Journal of Medicine study showed extra benefit if the solution used to flush the tubes was oil based (Lipiodol) instead of water based. Live birth rates were 28% with water based solutions & 37% with oil based.
How Does It Work?
Demeter Fertility uses the technique of poppy seed oil tubal flushing prior to the IVF cycle. It involves a catheter being inserted into the uterus to allow the poppy seed oil to flush through it and into the fallopian tubes. It is performed with painkillers or alternatively may be performed under local anaesthetic. It is a safe and well tolerated procedure that takes less than 2 hours and patients can return to normal activities immediately afterwards.
What are the Risks?
There is some pain and discomfort associated with tubal flushing and the degree of pain is associated to the type of procedure being undertaken. A woman can be a little uncomfortable as only a small quantity of fluid can be tolerated. There is an option to have the procedure under local anesthetic. There are the normal risks associated with using X-ray, with exposure to a minimal dose of radiation. There are also minor risks relating to the possibility of damage to a patient's internal structures and also bleeding. Infection is also a factor to consider in any operation, however in these types of procedures the introduction of infection into the pelvis is a very rare complication.
Tubal flushing has shown to increase the potential for women to fall pregnant. In addition, clinical studies have shown that a poppy seed oil tubal flush in combination with IVF can increase pregnancy rates by up to 37%. It is also believed to have an immunological benefit to the uterus giving the embryo a better chance to survive.
To find out more about Tubal Flushing, watch our video.
Demeter Fertility is a Sydney based IVF clinic. If you would like to know more about the benefits of tubal flushing in combination with IVF, make an appointment with one of our specialists today.