Blocked fallopian tube
The fallopian tubes are two thin tissue tubes on opposite side of the uterus which will help to carry the mature egg from the ovaries to the uterus. When some tissues block the egg from passing through the tube, a women has a blocked fallopian tube, also known as tubal factor infertility. This can occur on one or both sides and is the cause of infertility in up to 30% of infertile women.
The fallopian tubes:
The blocked fallopian tube is very common to experience any symptoms. Many women think that if they are having regular periods, their fertility is fine. But it’s not like that.
Every month, when ovulation occurs, an egg is released from one the ovaries. That ovulated egg will travels from the ovary, through the tubes, and into the uterus. The sperm also need to swim and travel from the cervix, through the uterus, and through the fallopian tubes to get to the egg. Fertilization usually takes place in the fallopian tube while the egg is travelling through the tubes.
If the left or right fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg cannot go the uterus, and the sperm cannot able to reach the egg, which will prevent fertilization and pregnancy. It’s also possible for the tube not to the blocked totally, but only partially. This can increase the risk of tubal pregnancy or may be ectopic pregnancy.
The blocked fallopian tube hardly causes visible symptoms unlike anovulation. Menstrual cycles irregularities are not related to blocked fallopian tubes. The first symptoms of blocked fallopian tube are infertility. If you are trying to get pregnancy and it’s not happening means you need to check for the fallopian tube blocked. Your doctor may ask for a specialized X-ray to check the fallopian tube along with other basic fertility testing.
A specific kind of blocked fallopian tube called HYDROSALPINX may cause lower abdominal pain and unusual vaginal discharge but not every person will have these symptoms. Hydrosalpinx is when a blocked causes the tube to dilate which is increasing the diameter and fills with the fluid. The fluid which blocks the egg and sperm preventing fertilization and also pregnancy.
Some of the causes of blocked fallopian tubes can have their own symptoms for example the endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) may cause painful menstruation and painful sexual intercourses.
Symptoms that could indicate pelvic infection includes:
- General pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Fever over 101 above
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe lower abdominal or pelvic pain
Acute pelvic infection can be life threatening. If you have a high fever or severe pain, contact the doctor immediately, or go to the hospital as emergency.
The most common causes of blocked fallopian tubes is PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease is the result of sexual transmitted disease, although not all pelvic infection are related to STDs. Also even if the PID is no longer present, a history of PID or pelvic infection which will higher the risk of blocked tubes.
Important causes of blocked fallopian tubes include:
- Infection, specifically like chlamydia or gonorrhea
- History of uterine infection caused by an abortion or miscarriage
- History of ruptured appendix
- History abdominal surgery
- Previous ectopic pregnancy
- Prior surgery involving the fallopian tubes, including tubal ligation
Diagnosis of blocked fallopian tube
Blocked fallopian tubes are mostly diagnosed with a specialized scan called hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. An HSG is one of the common fertility tests ordered for every couple struggling to conceive. This HSG involves placing a dye through the cervix using tiny tube. Once the dye is in place, X-ray of the pelvic area are taken.
If this tubes are normal the dye will go through the uterus and fallopian tubes and spill out around the ovaries and into the pelvic cavity. If the dye doesn’t view in the tubes, then you may have a blocked fallopian tube. It’s important to known that 15% of women have may be false positive where the dye doesn’t get past the uteus and into the tubes. In this case the block appears to be right where the fallopian tube and uterus meet. If this happens, the doctor may repeat the test again, or order a different test to confirm.
Some other tests that may be include ultrasound, exploratory laparoscopic surgery, or hysteroscopy. Blood work to check for the presence of chlamydia antibodies may also be ordered.
Treatment for blocked fallopian tubes:
If you have one tube has tubal factor and other is healthy, you might be able to get pregnant without too much help. The doctor may give you fertility drugs to increase the chances of ovulation on the side with the open tube. This may not for option, in case of both tubes are blocked.
In some cases, laparoscopic surgery may be helpful to remove scar tissues. Unfortunately, this may not work for you as the chance of success depends on many issues. Age of the patient and extent of blockage contribute to success. If just few adhesions are between the tubes and ovaries, then the chances of getting pregnant after surgery are good.
In vitro fertilization:
Before the invention of in vitro fertilization (IVF), if repair surgery didn’t work or wasn’t an option, women with blocked tubes had no options to get pregnant. The uses of IVF make conception possible.
IVF treatment involves giving fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries. Then using a ultrasound guide needle through the vaginal wall, the retrieves the eggs directly from the ovaries. In the lab, the eggs fertilize and some healthy embryo result. One or two good grade embryos are transferred into the endometrium of uterus.
IVF completely avoids the fallopian tube, so blockages don’t matter. If you have a hydrosalpinx (fluid-filled tube), the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tube. Then, after the procedure of surgery, IVF can be tried.