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What Are the Pros and Cons of Fallopian Tube Removal?

Women with a high risk of breast cancer might consider fallopian tube removal to reduce that risk.
Fallopian tube removal dramatically reduces a woman's fertility.
A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the fallopian tubes.
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  • Originally Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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The biggest pros of fallopian tube removal have to do with health, particularly where disease prevention and pain reduction are concerned, while cons include reduced fertility and potentially serious side effects of surgery. Women who are at high risk of ovarian or breast cancer or who are prone to cysts and tumors often choose tube removal as a way of preventing problems later on. Except in situations where only part of the tube is removed, however, the surgery often greatly diminishes or eliminates the possibility of getting pregnant. Post-operative women also frequently experience a range or hormonal shifts and sometimes go through early menopause. Anyone considering tube removal should carefully weigh the pros and cons with a healthcare provider who can offer personalized advice.

Decreased Risk of Cancer

Medical experts generally agree that removing the fallopian tubes of healthy women at risk for certain types of breast and ovarian cancer can reduce the chances of these women actually developing the disease later on. This is most common in people with a strong family history of reproductive cancer. Taking the tubes out is one of the most effective ways of preventing malignant growths on either the tubes themselves or the ovaries, which are connected. The relationship to the breasts is a little bit more perplexing, but a number of studies show that, at least on the cellular level, there may be some strong connections.

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Women who have already developed cancer may also want their tubes removed in order to stop the growths from further development. This is usually less effective the further advanced the disease is, as it tends to spread through the lymphatic tissues relatively quickly. In these cases the surgery can sometimes provide relief and a slowing of symptoms, but not necessarily a complete cure.

Relief from Cysts and Tumors

Non-cancerous growths sometimes also occur along the fallopian passageways and can cause a great deal of pain and cramping. A variety of medications and therapies are usually recommended before surgery, but in extreme cases removing the tubes entirely might be the best way to ease pain and discomfort. Total removal under these circumstances is often most attractive when only one tube seems prone to growths and blockages. This way, the woman retains essentially half of her reproductive function.

Preventing Hemorrhage

Women who experience ectopic pregnancies often require tube removal as a means of preventing serious hemorrhage and possible death. Pregnancies are “ectopic” when a fertilized egg implants along the wall of the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus where it can be nurtured and grow. Development along any portion of the tube is usually considered a medical emergency. These eggs will not be able to develop into fetuses because they lack both space and nutrients, and as they grow they pose serious risk to the mother of hemorrhage and blood clotting.

Fertility Issues

The fallopian tubes are an important part of a woman’s reproductive system, and removal often has serious ramifications on fertility. The tubes connect the ovaries, where the eggs are produced, to the uterus. When they are gone, eggs have no way of getting to the uterus, which means that they have no way of meeting a sperm, getting fertilized, and implanting. Surgery removing both tubes renders a woman completely infertile. Taking one diminishes her chances to become pregnant naturally, but still leaves the possibility open. As long as a woman still has a healthy uterus she may be able to conceive through in vitro fertilization, but this can be costly and invasive.

In some cases, though, partial tube removal can actually help natural conception. This is usually the case when cysts, scar tissue, or other growths are blocking a portion of the tube, making it difficult or impossible for eggs to get past. In these procedures surgeons remove the damaged or defective portions, but then reconnect the tissues; the result is a shorter, but functional, tube.

Hormone Imbalance

Total tube removal often includes the ovaries, since the two are connected. When a woman loses her ovaries she also loses a major hormone regulator, and as a result she is likely to experience mood swings and wild fluctuations in her hormone levels, at least at first. The removal of both ovaries usually triggers menopause regardless of the patient’s age. Menopause is basically the body’s way of shutting down its reproductive functions, but the change is often accompanied by surges and drops in estrogen, testosterone, and other sex hormones.

Osteoporosis and Heart Concerns

A sudden loss of estrogen has been connected to a heightened risk for heart disease, which is something women who are thinking about elective tube removal should consider. Post-menopausal women are also usually at a higher risk for osteoporosis, or bone weakening. Both of these risks can be lessened with certain medications, supplements, and exercises, but they can mean lifestyle changes for patients.

General Risks of Surgery

Though the fallopian tubes are small, surgery to remove them is often quite invasive and can require a lot of time for healing and recovery, usually about 6 weeks. Patients must usually remain relatively inactive during this time to reduce the possibility of infection. Some bleeding and discomfort is normal following the procedure, although patients shouldn’t hesitate to contact their doctors if the bleeding is heavy or persistent.

Some fallopian tube removal can be conducted laparoscopically to minimize risks of infection and shorten recovery time, and many women are treated with replacement hormones to help reduce the effects of the lost estrogen. Women considering this surgery should discuss the particulars with their health care providers to learn about their personal risks, options for treatment, and post-surgical prognoses.

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Discuss this Article

anon935346
Post 11

I have had both my tubes removed because of ectopic pregnancy. Both times it was emergency surgery. I was eight or nine weeks along. My first tube which was my left one was removed three years ago. Then a month ago, I was 8 weeks pregnant, but nothing could be seen on the scan (it had taken me three years from my last ectopic to get pregnant). They found something near my right ovary, which turned out to be a baby and I was 9 weeks along. I had to have this tube removed.

My point of this story is before my first ectopic, I had numerous miscarriages. I didn’t struggle to get pregnant; I just couldn’t keep hold of them. After the first ectopic, it took me three years to get pregnant afterward, so I do believe it significantly reduces your chances of pregnancy with one tube, but it does happen. I was just unlucky that it was in my remaining tube.

Oh, and jenny tube removal doesn’t cause menopause; it is the ovaries which cause menopause. Hope this helps.

My only option now is IVF, which is costly and also very stressful. I think I may have put my body through enough. Good luck to you all.

anon351173
Post 10

I am looking for some help or answers, I know there is someone who is going through the same or similar who can help with advice.

I have one blocked tube (my right one), which my doctor thinks is due to having a ruptured appendix. I went to a fertility clinic today and the doc put me on the waiting list for a lap to remove the right blocked tube. I am not sure how this will help. I have never been pregnant and I have been trying for three years. Why would removing the blocked tube help?

I cannot receive IVF as my partner already has a child with his ex, so that apparently that means I'm not eligible. I really need some answers. I'm really pulling my hair out and I am so frustrated and sad.

anon315800
Post 9

I am almost four years postmenopausal. Now that want to remove my left ovary and fallopian tube because I have a cyst with papillary cells on it. I have had a very easy menopause with no hot flashes or sweats. With removing the ovary at this stage of life, will I start to have hot flashes now?

anon314610
Post 8

I just had both fallopian tubes removed and besides having a little cramping and being tired, I'm doing great.

anon313578
Post 7

I have suffered from a number of miscarriages and one ectopic that cause my right tube to be removed! It was a very emotional time. Three months later, I found the left tube was blocked and so I had surgery to unblock it which was unsuccessful, so due to the pain, I also had to have this removed! So, after trying for a baby for five years our plans have been taken away. I would really like to hear of any advice with regards to IVF or any other methods, as I really want to go ahead and try.

@Jennythelib: As I said above, I have had both tubes removed, but because I have one ovary left, I have not gone into immediate menopause, so I believe it's to do with ovaries, not tubes!

If your friend has only one tube, the 50 percent means chances of getting pregnant. Hope this helped.

SarahSon
Post 6

I ended up having my fallopian tubes removed after careful thought and several conversations with my doctor.

I was done having kids, so this was no longer a concern. Ovarian cancer runs in my family, and I was afraid that I would get cancer.

I was also having some other female problems and just decided in the long run it would be best to have the surgery to remove my fallopian tubes.

My doctor knew my history, and was supportive of my decision. Even though I knew there would be a long recovery, it took longer than I thought to get back to normal.

Once I got through the healing process, I was glad I went ahead and had it done. I have had far less problems, and no longer worry so much about getting ovarian cancer.

JessicaLynn
Post 5

I feel like it would be a lot easier to deal with removal of fallopian tube and ovary if the surgery was planned. I feel terrible for women who have an ectopic pregnancy and have to have emergency surgery.

At least if the surgery is planned, you're aware of the possible side effects. You've planned for the surgery and the recovery. But an emergency surgery happens out of nowhere! There's no way to plan for it. I imagine passing out and waking up without part of your reproductive system would be quit a shock!

starrynight
Post 4

@strawCake - I just hope your friend is prepared for the aftermath of those two surgeries. Even though it's going to reduce her risk of cancer, her life will be drastically changed. I would urge her to seek counseling to help with it.

I actually have a friend who had part of her fallopian tube removed. She had a fallopian tube blockage that was making it really hard for her to get pregnant.

I think she made the right choice, because she got pregnant about 6 months after her surgery!

strawCake
Post 3

I actually had no idea that fallopian tube removal surgery could prevent breast cancer in high risk women. Until recently, that is.

A friend of mine is at high risk for breast cancer. A lot of women have died from it in her family. And, she got some genetic testing done that confirms she is genetically prone to breast cancer.

As of now, she's contemplating having a double mastectomy and fallopian tube removal. She has children, she doesn't want to leave them motherless. She lost her mother early to breast cancer and doesn't want the same thing to happen to her kids.

I know it sounds a bit extreme, but I understand where she's coming from.

dfoster85
Post 2

@jennythelib - I think the article might be assuming that a person might have removal of the ovary *and* fallopian tube. I think you're right that just removing the tube would not cause menopausal symptoms in most cases.

No, your friend has a better than 50% chance! I don't know if tubal pregnancy is something that can recur in the other tube, which obviously would leave IVF her only option, but it's not as simple as saying she has a 50% chance. Basically, if she set out to have as many children as she could in her life, having only one tube would cut that total by about 50%.

Since a woman generally ovulates on only one side per cycle, a woman with only one fallopian tube will have a chance of getting pregnant only about half the months. So it *could* take her longer to conceive each baby. (She could still get lucky and conceive on the very first month.) Assuming she wants a typical one to three children, having only one tube should not be a major obstacle.

jennythelib
Post 1

Does removing just the fallopian tubes really cause immediate menopause? I thought that it was only necessary to have your ovaries in place and they would continue to secrete hormones (even after menopause, at very low levels).

I'm also wondering what it means to have a 50% drop in fertility. A friend of mine had a tubal pregnancy that was treated by removal of a fallopian tube. Does she now have only a 50% chance of having a healthy baby?

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