Blocked fallopian tubes
Find out how fallopian tubes get blocked, common symptoms, how they are diagnosed, and how they can be treated.
- What are fallopian tubes?
A pair of thin tubes, one on each side of the uterus, that carry the egg from the ovaries to the uterus.
- How do fallopian tubes get blocked?
The most common cause of blocked fallopian tubes is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Other potential causes include:
- Current or history of an STD infection specifically chlamydia or gonorrhea
- History of uterine infection caused by an abortion or miscarriage
- Endometriosis or fibroids can be associated with blockages
- Types of blocked fallopian tubes
The types of blockages are determined depending where in the tube the blockage is occurring.
Distal tubal occlusion - the fallopian tube is blocked at the end closest to the ovary. This condition is commonly known as hydrosalpinx, usually caused by STIs.
Midsegment blockage - the middle segment of fallopian tube is blocked. It is a common target of sterilisation interventions, i.e. tubal ligation.
Proximal tubal occlusion - the end of fallopian tube ( near uterus ) is blocked. This may be caused by infection due to abortion, miscarriages, cesarean section, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Blocked fallopian tubes symptoms
Not unlike other reproductive issues, women may experience certain symptoms or nothing at all.
Depending on the individual, some possible symptoms may be; strong to mild abdominal pain, fever, painful periods, strange looking or smelling vaginal discharge, or feeling pain while having sex or passing urine. however, because many women still ovulate, blocked Fallopian tubes can go unnoticed until a woman is trying to get pregnant.
- How to diagnose blocked fallopian tubes
Blocked tubes are usually diagnosed with a specialized x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This test involves placing a dye through the cervix using a tiny tube, taking x-rays of the pelvic area and all is normal if the dye runs through the uterus. If the dye doesn’t get through the tubes, there is a blockage.
It's important to know that 15 percent of women have a "false positive," so sometimes the Doctor will need to run this test twice.
Other tests may include ultrasound, exploratory laparoscopic surgery, or hysteroscopy (where they take a thin camera and place it through your cervix to look at your uterus).
- How do you treat blocked fallopian tubes
The treatment for blocked Fallopian tubes depends on where the blockage is and how severe it is. Women will be treated before embarking on her path to pregnancy to increase the chance of success.
All STIs will need to be treated with antibiotics.
Laparoscopy surgery can be performed to remove any scar tissue on the outside of the Fallopian tube, to reduce the obstruction.
If the blockage is more severe, (usually caused by a hydrosalpinx - STIs), the surgery may remove the affected part of the tube, drain any fluid and flush the tubes, to prevent the fluid from making its way back into the uterus.
Following on from this, IVF is the most effective treatment to increase the chances of pregnancy as surgery doesn’t necessarily prevent tubes from blocking again or the egg travelling freely to the uterus.