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Is Your Horse Having Trouble Conceiving?

on Thursday, 01 May 2014. Posted in Blog

Is Your Horse Having Trouble Conceiving?

Is your mare having a hard time conceiving? Like humans, some mares have difficulty becoming pregnant and sometimes it is difficult to know why. Once all the usual things have been ruled out, there is now a procedure that is being performed on mares to open their oviducts. This is along the lines of the mare’s last ditch effort to become pregnant.

Unfortunately, there is no way to absolutely prove this is the problem prior to the surgery.  This technique is performed when a mare without a uterine infection and with seemingly normal ovaries that ovulate normally fails to conceive. According to a recent article, ‘this infertility can be caused by oviduct concretions that prevent the oocyte from reaching the site of fertilization.’ (Seabaugh, 2014) During this procedure, the surgeon will do a laparoscopic topical application of a pharmacologic dose of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on each oviduct.  PGE2 is what the equine embryo secretes, but in much smaller amounts. When physiologic amounts of PGE2 are secreted, it can become bound to the musculature of the oviduct and this can hinder embryonic transport. According to the authors, a large dose of PGE2 applied to the external surface of an occluded oviduct may help restore patency to the oviduct. (Seabaugh, 2014)

In a previous study cited in this article, 14 of 15 barren mares conceived in the same or following breeding season after having this procedure done.  At Peterson & Smith, we have had two cases in need of the laparoscopic procedure. Dr. Slone has performed this technique on both mares referred by Dr. Matthews. The most recent mare that presented having difficulty becoming pregnant was a maiden mare. Her previous owners tried to breed her three separate years with no success. Her current owner tried to breed her last year and also had no success. This year, after consulting with Dr. Matthews, they decided to have the laparoscopic procedure done and she is now pregnant. She became pregnant the first breeding after the procedure was done.  This procedure may not work on all mares but so far, the outcome is pretty positive. 

Seabaugh KA, Schumacher J. Urogenital surgery performed with the mare standing.  Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 2014;30(1):191-209.

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