Fallopian tubes are female reproductive organs that connect the ovaries and the uterus. Every month during ovulation, which occurs roughly in the middle of a menstrual cycle, the fallopian tubes carry an egg from an ovary to the uterus.
A blocked fallopian tube is a condition where the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus are blocked, caused by factors such as scar tissues, pelvic infections, etc. One blocked fallopian tube can lead to pregnancy. The symptoms or signs of this condition often go unnoticed but can be diagnosed by tests such as HSG and treatments can be performed through various surgeries.
The fallopian tubes are two tube-like reproductive organs of a female located in the womb region that links the ovaries to the uterus.
The fallopian tubes aid ovulation and conception. The eggs at ovulation are carried from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. During conception, the sperm gets to meet and fertilize the egg in the fallopian before the egg gets into the uterus and implants, and a baby is conceived.
WHAT IS BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE?
A blocked fallopian tube is a condition where the passageway between the ovaries and uterus is blocked. This obstruction prevents the passing of eggs down the tube or tubes.
A blocked fallopian tube can also be referred to as the “tubal factor infertility” because it contributes to 30 to 40% of infertility causes in women. This is because both fallopian tubes are blocked, the released eggs cannot get into the uterus, and the sperm may not be able to get to the egg in the fallopian tube and get it fertilized, and this, in turn, will prevent pregnancy.
However, a fallopian tube can be blocked or partially blocked. If the tube is partially blocked, the sperm get to the egg and fertilize it. But this increases the risk of ectopic and tubal pregnancies because the fertilized egg may not be able to pass into the uterus and implant.
CAUSES OF BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE
The following conditions can lead to blocked fallopian tubes and they include:
TYPES OF BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE
The different types of blocked fallopian tubes depend on the location of the blockage. They include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and adhesions.
- Uterine infections.
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc.
- Scar tissues and adhesions in the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, could be a result of miscarriages, abortion, or surgery such as dilation and curettage (D&C).
- Endometriosis can lead to blockage.
- Cancerous or benign tumors in the uterus or ovaries.
- Ruptured appendix.
This happens when the blockage of the fallopian tubes occurs at the end of the tube close to the ovaries. This type is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), tumors, polyps, or adhesions in the ovaries, surgery is done in the ovaries, etc.
- Distal Tubal Occlusion (Blockage)
This occurs when the end of the fallopian tube that connects to the uterus is blocked. This is often caused by pelvic infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and adhesions, uterine surgery and infections, Asherman’s syndrome from dilation and curettage (D&C), scar tissues, or infections from abortions, miscarriages, etc.
- Proximal Tubal Occlusion (Blockage)
This is a rare type and occurs when the middle section of the fallopian tube is blocked. It can be caused by polyps or tumors in the tube, scar tissues (adhesions) that form in the tubes, tubal ligation, etc.
This is also a type of distal tubal occlusion because mostly happens at the end of the tube connected to the uterus. However, this occurs when fluid builds up, dilates, and enlarges the fallopian tube. In very rare and severe cases, blockages can happen in the entire fallopian tube.
SYMPTOMS OF BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE
The signs of blocked fallopian tubes are hardly noticeable, so a female can go years with the condition without figuring it out until she tries to get pregnant.
The major symptom of the blocked fallopian tubes is infertility or pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancy. However, this may not be a problem for a lady who has one blocked fallopian tube because ovulated and fertilized eggs can pass through the open fallopian tube into the uterus.
In rare cases, women with this condition have regular pains in their abdomen which often occurs in females suffering from hydrosalpinx.
Other symptoms can be detected from the causes of blocked fallopian tubes. For instance, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) brings about severe pains during menstrual cycles, chronic pelvic pains, pains during sexual intercourse, etc. Infections can lead to smelly discharges, abdominal and pelvic pains, fever, etc.
DIAGNOSIS OF BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE
To confirm a blocked fallopian tube, the following tests are performed:
- Midsegment Occlusion (Blockage)
BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE TREATMENT
The treatment of blocked fallopian tubes depends on the cause, the location of the blockage, and how severe it is. Treatments may include the following:
Antibiotics can fight infections and bacteria that have contributes to the blockages in the fallopian tube. However, this does not remove the blockages but reduces the risk of more occlusions.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG); an X-ray used to check for any problems in the fallopian tube.
- Sonohysterography; used to detect problems in the fallopian tubes and pelvis.
- Laparoscopy; the use of a laparoscope inserted through the cervix to inspect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus for any blockages. It can also be used to remove the blockages, if possible.
- Hysteroscopy; used to detect abnormalities in the uterus through the use of a hysteroscope.
- Blood Tests; done to test for the presence of a bacteria or infection that can result in the condition.
In a case where tumors, polyps, fibroids, etc, are the causes of blockages, these treatments can be used to reduce and eradicate them.
- Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy
These are minimally invasive methods of removing scar tissues, adhesions, polyps, fibrosis, and any abnormal tissue causing a blockage. Through a small incision, a hysteroscope or laparoscope along with other small surgical probes are used to view the obstruction and dislodge it. But this is done when the abnormal tissues can be easily removed without serious complications.
- Laparoscopy or Hysteroscopy
This is a nonsurgical treatment done when there is a tubal blockage next to a uterus. It involves your doctor using a hysteroscope or fluoroscope to insert a cannula through your cervix into your fallopian tube. This creates a passageway for the eggs.
The surgical procedures to treat the condition include:
This is used to repair a damaged part of the tube by cutting off the blocked part and joining back the healthy parts. Often used to treat tubal ligation, hydrosalpinx, and midsegment occlusion.
This procedure is carried out to create a new opening at the end of the fallopian tube close to the ovaries. The procedure is done when the tube is blocked by fluid buildup. However, it can cause a formation of scar tissues that can re-block the tube.
This procedure is done to remove a part of the fallopian tube that has been blocked.
This procedure is done to rebuild the damaged end of the fallopian tube connected to the ovaries, which is partially or blocked by scar tissues.
When there are too many adhesions or scar tissues that have blocked the fallopian tubes, surgical methods and even minimally invasive procedures are highly risky. With such a risk, it is better to consider the next treatment option.
- Selective Tubal Cannulation
This procedure is the best way to solve infertility issues arising from blocked fallopian tubes. It involves taking your ovulated egg from your ovaries, fertilizing it (in-vitro), and placing it back in your uterus to implant and you can go through a smooth process of pregnancy.
Pelvic infections especially pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and other infections such as STIs have been said to be the main cause of blocked fallopian tubes. Therefore, to prevent it, always be cautious and test for such infections. Take antibiotics to treat them. For other causes such as scar tissues, fibroids, tumors, ruptured appendix, etc, make sure to treat and remove them once noticed.
- In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Blocked fallopian tubes don’t often cause symptoms. Many women don’t know they have blocked tubes until they try to get pregnant and have trouble.
In some cases, blocked fallopian tubes can lead to mild, regular pain on one side of the abdomen. This usually happens in a type of blockage called a hydrosalpinx. This is when fluid fills and enlarges a blocked fallopian tube.
Conditions that can lead to a blocked fallopian tube can cause their own symptoms. For example, endometriosis often causes very painful and heavy periods and pelvic pain. It can increase your risk for blocked fallopian tubes.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease – This disease can cause scarring or hydrosalpinx.
• Endometriosis – Endometrial tissue can build up in the fallopian tubes and cause a blockage. Endometrial tissue on the outside of other organs can also cause adhesions that block the fallopian tubes.
• Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
• Past ectopic pregnancy – This can scar the fallopian tubes.
• Fibroids – These growths can block the fallopian tube, particularly where they attach to the uterus.
• Past abdominal surgery – Past surgery, especially on the fallopian tubes themselves, can lead to pelvic adhesions that block the tubes.
Can I get pregnant with one blocked fallopian tube?
Yes, you can. You have two fallopian tubes and when one is blocked and the other is open, during ovulation, the released eggs can pass through the open tube, get fertilized by sperm during intercourse, and implant in your uterus.
Is it possible to be pregnant when fallopian tubes are partially blocked?
Yes, it is. If the ovulated eggs are released and sperm during intercourse can pass the partially closed tubes to fertilize the eggs, the eggs can begin to form. However, this can lead to tubal or ectopic pregnancy when the fertilized egg cannot pass through the tubes to get implanted in the uterus.
Can a lady with a blocked fallopian tube menstruate?
Yes, she can, but it is often accompanied by severe cramps and pains during the cycle.
How will I realize that my fallopian tubes are blocked?
The symptoms of blocked fallopian tubes are hardly noticeable especially when it is partial. However, you may notice symptoms like:
- Painful menstruation,
- Pains during sex,
- Abdominal pains, etc.
What is the best treatment option for blocked fallopian tubes?
A tubal resection is okay when a part of the tube is blocked and can be cut away and the healthy ends reattached with little complications. However, when adhesions are too much and clogged in such a way that surgery poses a high risk, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure to get pregnant is the best option.