Women who are unable to have children often undergo a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopy is performed as a diagnostic as well as a treatment procedure. It gets its name from the dynamic tool used in the procedure called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is a special thin tube-like flexible device with a high-resolution camera and high-beam light attached at one end that allows the doctor to have a view of all the abdominal organs.
Laparoscopy for infertility is used to diagnose and treat a variety of “pelvic fertility factors” such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and many more. The biggest advantage of this procedure is that it involves minor cuts through which the laparoscope and necessary instruments are inserted to perform the required procedures.
Through this article, let’s understand how the procedure of laparoscopy works in infertility treatment and Why laparoscopy is done for infertility.
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
Laparoscopy for infertility is the laparoscopic procedure performed to detect and treat the conditions causing infertility. It is performed with the help of a laparoscope (the camera and light-aided tool) that guide the doctor by providing real-time images that are reflected on the monitor screen. These images help analyze the internal pelvic infertility condition. The various methods and techniques of laparoscopy are:
Laparoscopy performed to diagnose or find the exact cause of infertility is termed diagnostic laparoscopy.
The laparoscopic procedure used to treat infertility is known as operational laparoscopy.
Advanced laparoscopic techniques use a 3-D camera for a 3-dimensional view.
Robotic laparoscopy applies for robotic assistance during the laparoscopic procedure.
Laparoscopy is generally performed to assess the internal abdominal and/or pelvic organs. The female fertility conditions that can be detected and treated through laparoscopic surgery are:
Anomalies within the uterus: Uterus is where the embryo gets implanted. The presence of uterine fibroids and structural deformities of the uterus does not allow women to conceive. Laparoscopy is used to assess and correct these conditions of the uterus.
Blockages of the fallopian tubes: The fallopian tubes enable the movement of gametes and fertilization to take place. Blockages of these tubules are removed to considerably improve the fertilization chances.
Hydrosalpinx: Hydrosalpinx is the condition where an unusual fluid gets collected within the fallopian tube and can damage it. In such cases, the tubes are clipped off using the laparoscopy technique.
Conditions of the ovaries: Large and stubborn ovarian cysts are detected and treated by laparoscopic technique.
Endometriosis and pelvic adhesion: In women with endometriosis, the endometrium grows out of the uterus. This causes the pelvic organs and tissues to stick with each other. Endometriosis is treated and adhesions are released through laparoscopic surgery.
Removal of scar tissues: Infections or a previous surgery can leave scar tissues formations within the reproductive tract that can obstruct fertility. These scar tissues can be detected accurately and be removed through laparoscopy.
Laparoscopy involves 2-3 small cuts made below the navel that allow insertion of the laparoscope and essential instruments to carry out the diagnostic or operational procedures. The incisions made are between 0.5 to 1 cm wide and so laparoscopy is also called ‘Keyhole Surgery’. Laparoscopy begins with initial tests and investigations after which the surgery is performed.
The diagnostic laparoscopy for infertility procedure involves the following steps:
General anesthesia is administered so that pain and discomfort are not experienced during laparoscopy.
Small incisions are made in the lower abdominal region.
A tube with carbon dioxide gas is let in through one of the insertions to allow inflation of the pelvic cavity for clear visualization.
The Laparoscope is inserted with the help of a flexible tube or cannula which facilitates movement of the camera-aided device to move through the intricate areas of the pelvic organs.
The images acquired through the laparoscope can help diagnose the underlying cause of the condition.
After the required diagnosis is done, the laparoscope and other instruments are removed.
The carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape from the abdomen. After which keyhole cuts are closed and dressed appropriately.
For laparoscopic biopsy, a sample of tissue is taken out for evaluation. In operational laparoscopy, additional surgical instruments are inserted through the incisions that treat, correct, or repair the underlying cause of infertility.
The road to recovery post laparoscopy is quick due to the smaller cuts made during the surgical procedure. After the laparoscopic procedure is performed, a few hours of observation is expected. Once the anesthesia effect is reduced and all the medical parameters are normal, the patient will be discharged probably after a half a day stay at the hospital.
At home, the patient will be advised to rest for a couple of weeks for complete healing of the incision region and internal condition.
Diagnostic laparoscopy and operational laparoscopy are safe and effective surgical procedures. Laparoscopy allows a clear view of the pelvic cavity. Some of the other benefits of laparoscopy are:
Time taken for diagnostic laparoscopy is around 30-40 minutes and increases accordingly for operational laparoscopy.
Laparoscopy requires small incisions, less bleeding, and fewer infection probabilities.
Laparoscopy benefits a speedy recovery post-surgery.
The small cuts made take less time to heal with reduced pain and internal scarring.
Minimum risks are associated with this surgical technique. However, some of the rare side-effects one may experience from a laparoscopy procedure include:
Pain or discomfort in the pelvic region
Very rarely bleeding at the incision site
Swelling or redness near the incision
Clotting of blood
Breathing difficulties and cough
Complications or reactions due to anesthesia administration
The above risks and side-effects are very rare and can subside a few days after surgery. If the side-effects seem severe and persistent, avail medical assistance immediately.
Having understood the benefits of laparoscopy, it is important to know that laparoscopic surgery for infertility can treat minor and severe infertility issues. It is also proven that operational laparoscopy performed before an IUI has helped many conceive. Similarly, IVF considered after laparoscopic surgery has given better outcomes and has had successful IVF pregnancy results.
The assisted reproduction techniques (ART) are a miraculous boon to childless couples but an added laparoscopic treatment to the advanced ART procedures can increase pregnancy success by 20 to 25% and provide fruitful pregnancy outcomes.
Laparoscopy is not any major surgical procedure. The beauty of laparoscopy is that it is a diagnostic and treatment procedure. Even advanced techniques and instruments can be used in laparoscopy for more accuracy and precision. This technique of fertility treatment is minimally invasive with minor incisions and quick recovery post- surgery.
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