Blocked fallopian tubes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Blocked fallopian tubes is one of the possible causes of female infertility. There are generally no symptoms, but there are some risk factors that can increase the possibility of developing the condition. Medically, a blocked fallopian tube is known as tubal occlusion. The fallopian tubes are muscular tubes that are lined with delicate hair-like fimbriae. These “hair” work in both directions; helping an egg to travel from the ovaries down to the womb (uterus) and helping sperm travel up from the womb. The fimbriae catch and guide an egg when the ovary releases it. The fallopian tubes play an essential role in conception because they are where eggs are fertilized.

Symptoms

Blocked fallopian tubes do not show symptoms other than difficulty in conceiving A blocked fallopian tube causes some women to experience symptoms such as pain in the pelvis or belly. This pain might happen often, such as around the time of their period, or can be constant. Sometimes, a blockage in a fallopian tube can cause a fertilized egg to get stuck also known as an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is usually detected during a scan. Some woman may experience early signs of pregnancy, such as stomach pain on one side of the body, or vaginal bleeding in some cases.

Causes

Fallopian tubes can become blocked for a range of reasons, which include:

  • a record of pelvic infection
  • a previous burst appendix
  • having a STD
  • endometriosis, a disorder that causes the lining of the womb to grow outside of the uterus
  • record of abdominal surgery
  • hydrosalpinx, which is swelling and fluid at the end of a fallopian tube

All these conditions affect the fallopian tubes directly or this area of the body. In most cases, these conditions or procedures produce scar tissue that can block the tubes.

Effects on fertility        

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, getting pregnant may be more difficult. Each of the two ovaries is attached to the uterus by a fallopian tube. The ovaries store eggs and release them at random, with one ovary releasing an egg each month. If one fallopian tube is blocked, it might still be possible for an egg to be fertilized. If both are blocked, this is less likely.

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Diagnosis

Blocked fallopian tubes are difficult to identify. The tubes open and close, so it is not easy to recognize if they are blocked or just closed.

There are three key tests to detect blocked fallopian tubes:

  • An X-ray test, hysterosalpingogram or HSG. A doctor injects a dye into the womb, which should flow into the fallopian tubes. The stain is detectable on an X-ray. If the fluid does not flow into the fallopian tubes, the tubes may have a blockage.
  • An ultrasound test, known as a sonohysterogram. This is very much like to the HSG test but 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.

Laparoscopy is the most precise test for blocked tubes. Though, doctors may not recommend this test as an early diagnosis because it is invasive and cannot treat the issue.

Treatment and surgery

It is possible to open blocked fallopian tubes surgically. But this depends on the extent of the scarring and where the blockage is.

Surgery intends to open the fallopian tube using 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.

Blocked fallopian tubes can cause infertility, but it’s still possible to have a child. In many cases, laparoscopic surgery can remove the blockage and improve fertility. If surgery isn’t possible, IVF can help you conceive if you’re otherwise healthy.

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