Fallopian Tube Blockage: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Fallopian Tube Blockage

Unless you’re from the medical field, the only time you’ve probably heard the term “fallopian tube” is either during biology class in school or during a visit to your gynecologist.

Fallopian tubes are long tube-like organs connecting your uterus to your ovaries. Every woman has two fallopian tubes, whose two most critical functions are: (1) is to deliver the mature egg(s) from the ovaries to the uterus (2) fertilization. Almost 30 percent of women are infertile because of a fallopian tube blockage.

 

In this article, you will find answers to all your questions regarding fallopian tubes. We will be discussing in detail about:

Let’s start with understanding what fallopian tube blockage means.

 

What Is Fallopian Tube Blockage?

As mentioned earlier, the fallopian tubes are responsible for the safe delivery of the mature egg(s) from the ovaries to the uterus and for fertilization. However, there are sometimes obstructions
inside the fallopian tubes that prohibit the passage of these eggs. This condition is called fallopian tube blockage.
Since there is no passage of eggs, the egg and the sperm don’t meet, and fertilization cannot happen. Infertility caused because of a fallopian tube blockage is known as

Tubal Factor Infertility.
Fallopian tube blockage can happen anywhere inside the tubes:

  • At the end of the tube towards the ovaries.
  • At the beginning of the tube towards the uterus.
  • Anywhere between the beginning and the end of the tube. In severe cases, there may be a blockage in the entire length of the tube.
 

Effects Of Fallopian Tube Blockage On Fertility

Every female body has two fallopian tubes, where each tube facilitates the passage of mature eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.

The ovarian egg production cycle may vary from one individual to the other. Each of the ovaries randomly releases mature eggs into the uterus through the fallopian tube.

For example, if the right ovary releases one mature egg for four months in a row, the left egg may release a mature egg in the fifth month.

In such a situation, if the female has a blockage in her right fallopian tube, then it will be impossible for her to conceive in the first four months. The couple needs to seek appropriate treatment
for the blockage for fertilization to happen.

If the couple has been trying to have a baby in these four months, they simply cannot. However, in the fifth month, they can still conceive since there is no blockage in the left fallopian tube, and
the left ovary is the one releasing the mature egg this time.

If both fallopian tubes are blocked, then there is no chance that the couple can conceive without first getting the appropriate treatment for both tubes.

 

Causes Of Fallopian Tube Blockage

Blocked fallopian tubes can happen because of several reasons. The most common ones include:

  • A past infection in the uterine tract due to a miscarriage or an abortion.
  • A ruptured appendix in the past.
  • Abdominal surgery in the past.
  • A past surgery in the fallopian tubes.
  • Endometriosis, a condition where the endometrium grows outside your uterus. This might lead to extensive adhesions.
  • A history of or a current STD infection, more specifically, chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • A history of or a current PID or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
  • Hydrosalpinx or swelling (fluid build-up in the fallopian tubes).

PID or pelvic inflammatory disease is the most common cause of fallopian tube blockage. PID occurs as a result of sexually transmitted diseases that lead to infections in the female pelvic region.

You must be wondering how the above causes directly affect the fallopian tubes or cause blockage inside them? There is one thing common in all of them. Each of these issues leads to the formation of
scar tissues inside the fallopian tube(s). These scar tissues obstruct the successful passage of eggs and cause a blockage in either one or both the tubes.

 

Symptoms Of Fallopian Tube Blockage

There are no significant or evident symptoms to tell whether your fallopian tube or tubes are blocked or not. If you have been trying to conceive for almost a year, the doctor may recommend getting your tubes checked.

 

Diagnosis Of Fallopian Tube Blockage


Since there are no evident symptoms for fallopian tube blockage, it can be pretty hard to detect. However, if your doctor suspects there could be a possibility of a blockage in
your fallopian tubes, there are three ways to find out:

  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
    A hysterosalpingogram or HSG is a procedure in which the doctor injects a harmless dye into your uterus and takes an X-ray of your pelvis region. The liquid flows from the uterus into the fallopian tubes
    and spills into the abdominal cavity that is visible in an X-ray. If your doctor cannot see this liquid passing through your fallopian tubes and spillage in the abdominal cavity, then it is clear that there is a blockage.
  • Saline Sonogram  (SSG)
    SSG is a procedure in which the doctor uses normal saline and ultrasound to determine the tubal patency. Here normal saline is passed through the uterus and the spillage is seen with the help of ultrasound.
    If the spillage is not seen the tubes are considered blocked.
  • Laparoscopy
    Laparoscopy is considered as a gold standard to check for tubal patency. It is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure, to check for tubal blockage. In this method, the doctor makes a
    keyhole-size incision in your abdomen cavity to insert a camera and visualise the uterus and fallopian tubes.   A dye is injected through the cervix into the uterus and the spillage from the fallopian tubes is
    seen through the camera.

Out of all of the above methods, laparoscopy is the most fool-proof one.

 

Fallopian Tube Blockage Treatment

The possibility of cure or treatment of a fallopian tube blockage depends on the extent of blockage and the nature of scar tissues present inside the tubes.

In case you still want to have a chance at conception, the doctor may recommend two lines of treatment:

  • Recanalization of fallopian tubes – Laparoscopic or open
    Recanalization of the fallopian tubes  is a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes can be recanalized with the help of a falloposcopy if the damage to the tubes is minimal .

     

    However, Recanalization is not a fool-proof treatment for fallopian tube blockage. Additionally, the success of the Recanalization  procedure depends on factors like the nature of the scar tissues, extent of blockage, and age of the patient.

    If the surgery is successful, your chances of getting pregnant are higher.

  • In Vitro Fertilization Or IVF Treatment
    Though this is not necessarily a treatment for fallopian tube blockage, it is a solution to get pregnant
    despite it. Earlier, when there was no discovery or knowledge of IVF, women with a blockage in their fallopian tubes could not get pregnant. They were deemed infertile.

    However, having blocked fallopian tubes does not necessarily mean you can not get pregnant. IVF can help you get pregnant without the help of your fallopian tubes. First, the doctor will prescribe fertility drugs to stimulate
    your ovaries. Then, with the help of a special needle, they will collect the mature eggs directly from the ovaries. Using these eggs and the sperm from the male partner, the laboratory creates embryos. The doctor
    implants these embryos inside your uterus.

    As you can see, in IVF there is no necessary involvement of the fallopian tubes. Doctors may recommend getting pregnant via IVF rather than undergoing surgery to clear the blockage in your fallopian tubes.

Associated Risks With Fallopian Tube Blockage

The highest risk associated with fallopian tube blockage is, of course, infertility. Doctors often recommend IVF or in vitro fertilization for pregnancy rather than treating the fallopian tube blockage through surgery because post recanalization risk of ectopic pregnancy is present.

 

Prevention Measures For Fallopian Tube Blockage

As mentioned above, infections in the pelvis region are major risk factors for blockage in the fallopian tubes. Therefore, make sure that you keep yourself safe from contracting any such infections and undergo regular screenings for STDs and STIs. If you develop an infection, you must catch it earlier on to get the treatment in time. With the help of the appropriate line of treatment and antibiotics, you can easily revive the health
of your pelvic region.

 

FAQs

Q. How do I know that my fallopian tubes are blocked?

There are no clear symptoms to tell whether you have a blockage in your fallopian tubes or not. However, you can get yourself checked if:
However your doctor may ask you to check for tubal  patency if you are unable to conceive despite trying for almost a year.

Q. Can HSG or Hysterosalpingogram open up my blocked tubes?

HSG is merely an X-ray test to check for blockage in your tubes. However, sometimes the liquid dye injected into your tubes may push through the mucus and open up the blockage in your tubes.
This is only in cases wherein the reason for obstruction is due to mucus.

Q. If I am having my periods regularly, does that mean my fallopian tubes are not blocked?

Blockage in your fallopian tubes may not necessarily hamper your menstrual cycle.

Q. What is the treatment for blocked fallopian tubes?

If the scar tissues and adhesions found inside the fallopian tubes are small and lesser in number, doctors can remove them with the help of laparoscopic surgery. However, if the scar tissues are huge and widespread, then treatment of the blockage may not be possible.

Q. Can I get pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes? How?

Yes, absolutely. Despite having a blockage in one or both your fallopian tubes, you can still get pregnant. The advanced science of IVF can help with this.
Using fertility drugs and injections, the doctor first stimulates your ovaries to produce eggs and then collects the mature eggs using the syringe. The male partner’s sperms are made to fertilize the eggs in a laboratory, with the help of an injection and a dish. This may lead to the formation of one or more healthy embryos. The doctor carefully implants these embryos inside the female partner’s womb. You can ask the doctor to place one or two healthy embryos inside your womb.
Therefore, with no involvement of the fallopian tubes, IVF can help you get pregnant.

Q. Is HSG painful?

In most cases, the dye passes through the uterus and the fallopian tubes without causing much pain. However, in case there is a blockage in your tubes, you may experience excruciating pain and discomfort for a few minutes.

Q. Can you still get pregnant with one blocked fallopian tube?

Both the ovaries in your body randomly release mature eggs into your uterus through their respective fallopian tubes. If any one of your fallopian tubes is blocked and the other is perfectly healthy, you can still get pregnant. Though the chances might be far lower because the ovary corresponding to the healthy fallopian tube should be the one releasing the eggs.
Alternatively, there is always IVF to help you get pregnant. Chances of pregnancy through IVF could even be higher than relying on one functional ovary and fallopian tube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *