The female reproductive organ that connects the ovaries and the uterus is known as the Fallopian tubes. During ovulation every month, which occurs around the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle, an egg is being carried by the Fallopian tubes from the ovary to the uterus.
The Fallopian tube is also where conception happens. An egg moves through the Fallopian tubes after being fertilized by the sperm. When there is a blockage in the Fallopian tube, the movement of sperm to the eggs, including the path that leads to the uterus, becomes blocked too.
The prevalent reasons for a blocked Fallopian tube could include infection, scar tissue, and pelvic adhesions.
Blocked fallopian tubes don’t often show symptoms. Many women with blocked Fallopian tubes don’t even know till they try to get pregnant. Occasionally, blocked Fallopian tubes could result in mild and constant pain on the side of the abdomen.
This sometimes materializes in a type of blockage known as hydrosalpinx. Hydrosalpinx happens when the fluid fills and expands a blocked Fallopian tube.
Circumstances that could lead to blocked Fallopian tubes can develop their own symptoms. For instance, endometriosis often leads to very painful and heavy menstrual flow and pelvic pain. This could maximize your risk for blocked Fallopian tubes.
Effect on fertility
A prevalent cause of infertility is blocked Fallopian tubes. Usually, the sperm meets an egg in the Fallopian tube for fertilization. The meeting becomes impossible when the Fallopian tube is blocked.
Pregnancy becomes difficult if both tubes are completely blocked and even impossible without treatment. There is still a slim chance for pregnancy to happen if the tubes are partially blocked.
Nevertheless, this increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy. This can happen because a blockage hinders the movement of the fertilized egg to the uterus. If this is the case, your doctor might recommend an IVF (in vitro fertilization), but this depends on whether treatment as possible.
The chances are only one Fallopian tube is blocked, this allows you to still get pregnant on the unaffected part. An egg can still pass through the unblocked Fallopian tube.
Fallopian tubes are commonly blocked by pelvic adhesion or scar tissue. Many factors can cause these, and some can include the following;
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: This disease can cause hydrosalpinx or scarring.
- Endometriosis: Endometrial tissue can develop in the fallopian tubes, causing a blockage. Tissues formed on the outside of other organs caused by endometriosis can lead to adhesions that can ultimately block the Fallopian tubes.
- Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause scarring that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Past ectopic pregnancy: Prior ectopic pregnancy can cause scarring in the Fallopian tubes.
- Fibroids: The growth of fibroids can block the Fallopian tubes. These growths can block the fallopian tube, precisely where they join at the uterus.
- Past abdominal surgery: Surgeries are done, especially on the Fallopian tubes, which can cause pelvic adhesion, which ultimately blocks the tubes.
Many causes of blocked Fallopian tubes can’t be prevented. Nevertheless, exposure to STIs can be minimized with the use of condoms during intercourse.
Diagnosing blocked fallopian tube
A type of X-ray used in the examination of the inside of Fallopian tubes is known as Hysterosalpingography (HSG), and it is used to help diagnose possible blockage. Doctors usually introduce a dye into the Fallopian tubes and the uterus before the procedure.
The dye is administered so that doctors can have a clear image of inside the Fallopian tubes.
Done in a doctor’s office, an HSG should be done in the first half of a menstrual cycle. Although side effects are unusual, it’s possible to also have false-positive results.
If doctors are not able to make a definitive diagnosis using HSG, then further evaluation could be done using laparoscopy. Your doctor can go-ahead to remove any blockage, if any.
When the Fallopian tubes are blocked by adhesion or little amount of scar tissues, your doctor can remove the blockage by using laparoscopic surgery. However, when the Fallopian tubes are blocked by large scar tissue, then treatment might be impossible.
An operation to repair tubes damaged by infection or ectopic pregnancy may be an option. If the blockage is caused by damage to a part of the Fallopian tube, then a surgeon can have the damaged part removed and connect the healthy parts.
The chances of pregnancy
It is possible to get pregnant after getting treated for a blocked fallopian tube. The chances of becoming pregnant depend on the method of treatments and the severity of the blockage.
The rate of pregnancy is higher if the blockage is near the uterus. It is lower if the Fallopian tubes are blocked at the end near the ovary. Also, the chances of getting pregnant following surgery for ectopic pregnancy or infection is very slim.
Notwithstanding, it depends on how much damage must have occurred and what part of the tubes are removed. It is important that you discuss with your healthcare provider before treatment so as to completely understand all you need for a successful pregnancy.
The most common complication associated with blocked fallopian tubes and its treatment is an ectopic pregnancy. When a Fallopian tube is partially blocked, it’s likely that an egg has been fertilized, and is stuck in the tube. This could result in an ectopic pregnancy, which requires an immediate medical emergency.
Surgery that extracts part of the fallopian tube also maximizes the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Due to these risks, doctors often advise patients to opt for IVF rather than surgery for women with blocked fallopian tubes.
One major disadvantage of blocked fallopian tubes is infertility, but it’s not impossible to still have a child. In most cases, procedures that include laparoscopic can be done to remove the blockage in the Fallopian tubes and improve fertility. IVF can be done to help with conception if surgery isn’t possible.
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