The Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Blocked fallopian tubes can cause infertility in women. In fact, professionals estimate that this issue is responsible for 10 to 25% of cases of infertility in countries like Spain.
To understand its medical importance, it’s important to note that your fallopian tubes connect the ovaries and the uterus. When they are blocked, the ovum cannot pass from the ovary to the uterus.
As a result, the ovum and the sperm cannot meet. Because of this, fertilization is impossible. However, the great news is that this condition is reversible in many cases.
Main symptoms of blocked fallopian tubes
One troublesome aspect of this condition is that it rarely causes symptoms. In many cases, women only realize there’s a problem when they can’t get pregnant.
However, in some cases, this condition will cause mild symptoms. For example, you may experience moderate pain on one side of your abdomen. This will only happen with a type of blockage called hydrosalpinx.
In addition, you may experience symptoms if another problem is causing this issue, like endometriosis. In most cases, though, you won’t experience any obvious symptoms as a result of blocked fallopian tubes.
What causes blocked fallopian tubes?
Normally, another condition or injury is the cause of blocked fallopian tubes. Several health conditions can cause this problem. Here are some of the most common:
- Salpingitis. This causes inflammation of the tubes and it’s the result of an infection. While the tubes are very delicate, they may clog or experience damage.
- Hydrosalpinx. This is usually the result of an infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea. In this case, the fimbriae at the end of the fallopian tubes are obstructed. These are essential for the ovum to reach the fallopian tubes from the ovary.
- Piosalpinx. This type of inflammation occurs because there’s pus in the fallopian tubes. This creates a blockage and, if they rupture, they will create an abscess in the pelvis.
- Endometriosis. With this condition, part of the lining of the uterus will grow outside the uterus. There may be an adhesion that blocks the fallopian tubes.
- Pelvic surgery. This type of surgery can also lead to adhesion that may block the tubes.
- Congenital. Sometimes, you are born with blocked fallopian tubes.
- Blockage. This may occur if you’ve had tubal ligament surgery.
Keep reading: 7 Main Causes of Female Infertility
How does it affect fertility?
As we previously mentioned, blocked fallopian tubes make fertilization impossible. This blockage prevents the ovum from meeting the sperm. Therefore, you can’t get pregnant.
It’s important to clarify the issue. Not all blockages are equally severe. There are two types:
- Total obstruction. Fertilization is impossible because the egg and sperm can’t meet.
- Partial obstruction. In this case, fertilization is difficult, but not impossible. Some eggs can pass through the obstruction, so it’s still possible to meet the sperm.
Also, in many cases, only one fallopian tube is experiencing blockage. In these situations, the ovum can pass through one of the tubes. Therefore, it’s less likely that you’ll get pregnant, but it’s still possible.
Blocked fallopian tubes diagnosis
In addition to the fact that the blocked fallopian tubes don’t cause symptoms, they can also become unblocked. That makes a diagnosis more difficult. As a result, a specialist will need to carry out the following tests:
- X-ray test. The most common option is the hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. The specialist will inject fluid into the fallopian tubes. Then, they will take an X-ray to see if the liquid flows or stops.
- Sonohysterogram. This is an ultrasound test and it’s very similar to the previous option.
- Laparoscopy. For this test, the specialist will insert a tiny camera into your body and explore the condition of your fallopian tubes.
A laparoscopy is the most conclusive test since the other tests can result in false positives. However, this procedure is invasive and specialists don’t always recommend it. If they aren’t certain about the test results, they will repeat the test and complement the results with your medical history.
To treat blocked fallopian tubes, you’ll need surgery. There are several types of surgery. Your doctor will choose the one that’s best for the type and location of the obstruction. In addition, they’ll consider the patient’s general condition.
These are the types of surgery:
- Salpingectomy. The specialist will perform this surgery if you have hydrosalpinx, which is when your fallopian tubes fill with fluid. They will do this to facilitate in vitro fertilization.
- Fimbrioplasty. Doctors will do this surgery if the part of the fallopian tube that’s obstructed is close to the ovary. The goal of this surgery is to rebuild the fimbriae in the fallopian tubes.
- Selective tubal cannulation. The specialist will choose this option if the obstruction is close to the uterus. They will insert a cannula, or tube, into the fallopian tube to unblock it.
- Tubal reanastomosis. If the blockage is from a disease, or if the doctor needs to undo a tubal ligation, they will use this method. This allows them to unblock the clogged area and connect the healthy sections.
The doctors will perform this surgery through laparoscopy or open abdomen surgery. You will need to be hospitalized and the recovery period ranges from four to six weeks.
Possibility of pregnancy after treatment
The treatment’s success will depend on the extent and location of the obstruction. Your fertility will also depend on your age, the quality of your partner’s sperm, and the level of damage to your fallopian tubes.
The least risky type of surgery is laparoscopy. In addition, there’s always a risk of an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the fertilized egg gets stuck outside the uterus.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to undergo more than one procedure to treat this issue and be fertile again. Typically, you’ll need to wait 12 to 18 months before you can tell if the treatment was successful.
If the procedure is successful, most women will be able to have multiple pregnancies. However, if it fails, the specialist will recommend IVF or some other assisted reproductive technique.
When a woman undergoes a surgical procedure to unblock her fallopian tubes, she should inform the doctor as soon as she gets pregnant. The doctor will need to ensure it’s not an ectopic pregnancy.
Blocked fallopian tubes will not permanently keep you from getting pregnant. Also, treatment is often very successful. Finally, even if it’s not, there are other options.It might interest you...