Blocked fallopian tubes are one of the possible causes of female infertility. One may not come across the symptoms, but there are some risk factors to contend with which can increase the chance of developing one’s condition. The medical term for a blocked fallopian tube is tubal occlusion.
The fallopian tubes are rather muscular tubes that are lined with delicate hair-like structures. These “hairs” do work in both directions; thus helping an egg to travel from the ovaries down to the womb (uterus) and also helping sperm travel up from the womb.
Each fallopian tube does end in fimbriae, which are finger-like structures. The fimbriae catch and also guide an egg when the ovary does release it.
The fallopian tubes do play an important role in conception as they happen to be where most eggs are fertilized.
In case any part of the fallopian tube is damaged, for example, by surgery or an infection, they can also become blocked by scar tissue.
Symptoms of blocked fallopian tubes
Fallopian tubes do connect the ovaries to one’s uterus and also play an important role in fertility.
Blocked fallopian tubes do not often present symptoms other than difficulty in conceiving. Doctors do typically class this as having tried to conceive for about 1 year without much success.
A blocked fallopian tube may indeed cause some women to experience symptoms such as pain in one’s pelvis or belly. This pain might also happen regularly, such as around the time of their period or even be constant.
Sometimes, a blockage in one’s fallopian tube can rather cause a fertilized egg to get stuck. This is indeed referred to as an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy may not necessarily always cause many symptoms and is usually detected during a scan. However, some woman may also experience signs of pregnancy, such as suffering from stomach pain on one side of the body, or vaginal bleeding. Any woman who does suspect she has an ectopic pregnancy needs to seek immediate medical attention.
Causes of blocked fallopian tubes
Fallopian tubes can also become blocked for a range of reasons, which include:
• a history of pelvic infection
• a previous burst appendix
• having had a sexually transmitted disease, such as gonorrhea or even chlamydia
• endometriosis does happen to be a condition that does cause the lining of the womb to grow outside of one’s uterus
• history of abdominal surgery
• hydrosalpinx, which a swelling as well as fluid at the end of a fallopian tube
Effects on fertility
- On account of a blocked fallopian tube getting pregnant may be difficult.
- The female reproductive system is made up of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
- If a medical problem has affected any of these three areas, it may make getting pregnant more difficult.
- Each of the two ovaries is well connected to the uterus by a fallopian tube. The ovaries store eggs and then release them randomly, with one ovary releasing an egg each month.
- In case one fallopian tube is blocked, it may still be possible for an egg to be fertilized. If both are blocked, this is less likely.
Diagnosis of blocked fallopian tubes
Blocked fallopian tubes can indeed be difficult to be identified. The tubes can open as well as close, so it is not always easy to tell if they are blocked or even just closed.
There are three key tests to diagnose blocked fallopian tubes:
- An X-ray test, known as a hysterosalpingogram or HSG. A doctor does inject a harmless dye into the womb, which should flow into the fallopian tubes. The stain is visible on an X-ray. If the fluid does not flow into the fallopian tubes, they may also have a blockage.
- An ultrasound test, known as a sonohysterogram. This is also very similar to the HSG test but also uses sound waves to build up a picture of the fallopian tubes.
- Keyhole surgery, known as a laparoscopy. A surgeon makes a small cut in the body and inserts a tiny camera to take pictures of the fallopian tubes from inside.
- A laparoscopy is acknowledged as the most accurate test for blocked tubes. However, doctors may not actually recommend this test as an early diagnosis because it is invasive and cannot also treat the issue.
- A doctor may also be able to suggest a possible diagnosis based on medical history. For example, a woman may have had a burst appendix in the past. In case the woman has had difficulty conceiving, this could suggest blocked fallopian tubes as a likely cause.
Treatment and surgery for blocked fallopian tubes
It may indeed be possible to open blocked fallopian tubes surgically. However, this much depends on the extent of the scarring and where the blockage is.
Surgery aims to open the fallopian tube making use one of the following methods:
• removing scar tissue
• making a new opening on the outside of the fallopian tube
• opening the fallopian tube from the inside
Most surgeons will carry out the procedure using keyhole surgery.