The fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive system. These are thin tubes located on either side of the uterus that connect the uterus to the ovaries. In order to transport mature eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, this tube is essential. The ovary releases a mature egg every month upon ovulation. After leaving the ovary, the egg will travel through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Additionally, the sperm must travel from the cervix through the uterus to the fallopian tubes in order to fertilize the egg. During a woman’s pregnancy, fertilization happens in the fallopian tube as the egg travels to the uterus.
What Is a Blocked Fallopian Tube?
It is referred to as a blocked fallopian tube when one or both of the fallopian tubes are blocked, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus. It is also called tubal factor infertility in females. Almost 30% of women suffer from infertility due to this condition. In the event of a blocked fallopian tube, the sperm cannot reach the mature egg for fertilization and a pregnancy is thus prevented. In many cases, a tube is either partially or completely blocked. In the case of a partially blocked fallopian tube, ectopic pregnancy or tubal pregnancy can occur. It is important to note that ectopic pregnancies are not viable pregnancies and are often associated with life-threatening complications for the mother.
Symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tubes:
The affected woman rarely experiences any symptoms due to a blocked fallopian tube. When a fallopian tube is blocked, infertility is often the first sign. If a woman has not been able to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse, they should see a specialist. As part of a fertility test, an infertility specialist may recommend an X-ray scan to check the fallopian tubes for blockages.
Hydrosalpinx is a type of fallopian tube blockage that may cause lower abdominal pain and unusual vaginal discharge in some women. However, not all women experience these symptoms. In a hydrosalpinx, the fallopian tube dilates due to a blockage, thus filling up fluid in the region. In this case, the fluid-filled blockage prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it.
You may experience painful menstruation and sexual intercourse if the fallopian tubes are blocked due to endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
The following are common symptoms of PID:
- General pelvic pain
- Pain during the intercourse
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Severe lower abdominal pain
Tubal blockages are most commonly caused by pelvic inflammatory diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are often the cause of PID. The presence of an active pelvic infection does not always cause a blockage, but in many cases, a previous infection does.
The following are other causes of blocked tubes:
- Experience with an STD such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea in the past
- History of abdominal surgery
- A history of miscarriage or abortion-related uterine infection
- A ruptured appendix history
- Fallopian tube surgery, such as tubal ligation
- History of ectopic pregnancy
An X-ray called hysterosalpingogram or HSG is usually used to diagnose blocked Fallopian tubes. HSG is a basic fertility test recommended for couples experiencing fertility issues. An X-ray dye is placed into the cervix with the help of a small tube. The pelvic region is then examined with X-rays after the dye has been taken up. When the test is normal, the dye passes through the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and into the pelvis around the ovaries. There could be a blockage in the fallopian tube if the dye is unable to pass through to the ovaries.
It may also be advised to undergo an exploratory laparoscopy to examine the reproductive tract for blockages. In a hysteroscopy, a camera is inserted into the cervix of the woman to image the uterus with the help of a hysteroscope. If the blockage persists, further blood tests may be recommended to check for Chlamydia and other STDs.
If a woman has a single blocked fallopian tube, she may be able to get pregnant with minimal treatment. Fertility drugs can be prescribed by specialists to stimulate ovulation on the side of the open fallopian tube. The specialist may recommend a different option if a woman has blockages in both fallopian tubes.
A laparoscopy may be required in order to remove scar tissue or unblock blocked fallopian tubes. Depending on the location and severity of the obstruction, the results will vary. It can also be influenced by factors such as the age of the female partner. There is usually a good prognosis for blockages caused by adhesions between the tube and the ovaries, and they are usually treatable.
Tubal Ligation Reversal:-
Tubal ligation is one of the methods of permanent birth control. These cases call for the fallopian tubes to be cut and clamped or special coils to be inserted that prevent the sperm from meeting the egg for fertilization. Occasionally, ligation can be reversed through surgery. It is usually more successful to reversibly ligate than to repair an infection-related blockage.
In vitro fertilization:-
It is possible to achieve a pregnancy with IVF technology in cases where surgery is not able to treat the blockage. During an IVF pregnancy, sperm and egg fertilize in a laboratory, which skips the fallopian tube fertilization process. In the case of IVF, the embryo created is transferred directly to the uterus, leading to a higher chance of implantation and pregnancy success. In the case of a hydrosalpinx-related blockage, surgery is usually recommended to remove the same, and then IVF can take place.