Fallopian tube damage is a common cause of infertility and tubal ectopic pregnancy. The fallopian tubes are the pathways in which the ova travel from the ovaries down into the uterus, and if there is a blockage in these tubes it can prevent this from occurring. A fallopian tube blockage typically prevents successful passage of the egg to the sperm, or the fertilized egg to the uterus. The fallopian tubes are two thin tubes, one on each side of the uterus, which help lead the mature egg from the ovaries to the uterus. When an obstruction prevents the egg from traveling down the tube, a woman has a blocked fallopian tube, also known as tubal factor infertility. This can occur on one or both sides and is the cause of infertility in 40 percent of infertile women.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Blockage can happen in one or both fallopian tubes. Some of the causes of the blockage are:
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): PID is one of the major cause of blocked fallopian tubes. PID refers to the collective inflammatory issues that affect the female reproductive system by creating blockage and damage to the fallopian tube. PID is the result of a sexually transmitted disease(STD), but not all pelvic infections are related to STDs.
Side effect of surgeries: Complications due to surgeries that involve the uterus and fallopian tubes like a C-section, abortion etc. can cause a blockage
Fibroids: A fibroid may bring about pressure on the fallopian tubes thus causing a blockage in the path of sperm or eggs
Endometriosis: Instead of shedding during menstruation, if you are experiencing endometriosis i.e. the endometrial cells are found outside the womb, it can cause a blockage. This is because the scars and adhesion that are created because of endometrial tissue can place physical pressure, creating the obstruction in fallopian tubes. This can prevent the tubes from taking in the eggs released from the ovary or making way for them to the uterus.
Infections: Infections, including sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia and gonorrhea or any infection caused by an abortion or miscarriage, can cause a blockage in the tubes.
Ectopic pregnancy: Sometimes, instead of continuing to travel toward the uterus, the fertilized egg is implanted in fallopian tubes, resulting in tubal pregnancy. If the woman has already experienced an ectopic pregnancy, she develops an increased risk of scar formation leading to the blockage of fallopian tubes
Ruptured appendix: If the woman has a history of a ruptured appendix, there is a chance that the infection can affect the fallopian tubes leading to blockage.
Tubal ligation removal: Tubal ligation, a popular birth control method, is removed when the couple desires for a baby. The chances for the fallopian tube blockage are high in this case because of the scar tissue that is formed after the procedure
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What are the symptoms?
Unlike anovulation, where irregular menstrual cycles may hint to a problem, blocked fallopian tubes rarely cause symptoms. Women may experience certain symptoms or nothing at all. Strong to mild abdominal pain, fever, painful periods, strange looking or smelling vaginal discharge, or feeling pain while having sex or passing urine are some possible symptoms, but because many women still ovulate, blocked fallopian tubes can go unnoticed until a woman is trying to get pregnant.
Treatments for blocked fallopian tubes
When it comes to treating blocked fallopian tubes, the traditional solution is tubal surgery. However, surgery is invasive and has several possible side-effects, one of the most common one being the risk of developing ectopic pregnancies. A less invasive and more affordable solution in cases of fallopian tube obstruction is in vitro fertilization or IVF. Nowadays, most women who suffer from blocked fallopian tubes choose IVF instead of surgery. IVF is safe and effective and offers women with infertility problems a very easy solution to conceive. However, in case the obstruction of the fallopian tubes is associated with hydrosalpinx formation (fluid filling a blocked fallopian tube), the success rate of IVF is smaller, so doctors recommend treating hydrosalpinx before having IVF.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes Cause Infertility?
Each month, when ovulation occurs, an egg is released from one of the ovaries. The egg travels from the ovary, through the tubes, and into the uterus. The sperm also needs to swim their way from the cervix, through the uterus, and through the fallopian tubes to get the egg. Fertilization usually takes place while the egg is traveling through the tube. If one or both fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg cannot reach the uterus, and the sperm cannot reach the egg, preventing fertilization and pregnancy. It’s also possible for the tube not to be blocked totally, but only partially. This can increase the risk of a tubal pregnancy, or ectopic pregnancy.
Can You Get Pregnant With a Blocked Fallopian Tube?
If only one fallopian tube is blocked, but the other is clear, it may still be possible to achieve pregnancy. It depends on how well the ovaries are functioning, and also what caused the blocked tube in the first place.
The fallopian tubes can sometimes become blocked or even damaged due to certain conditions that a woman may suffer from. In rare cases, the blockage to the fallopian tubes may have been present since birth as a birth defect, but has gone undetected until the woman reached adulthood and tried to conceive.
So don’t lose heart if you are diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes. Consult with your doctor and look for a treatment plan most suitable for you and enjoy healthy pregnancy and motherhood.
Don’t wait too long to start a family – that’s a message from Consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist, and Fertility Specialist today.
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Article By: Rupal Hospital for Women