Fallopian tubes are the thin tubes on either side of the uterus. They are the channels through which the mature female eggs travel from the ovaries to be implanted in the uterus. However, certain conditions can lead to the blockage of these tubes, and this can result in infertility. About 40% of infertile women have fallopian tube blockage problem.
How Fallopian Tubes Blockage cause Infertility
The egg leaves the ovary and travel through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Then the sperm meets, penetrates, and fertilize it while it is still travelling through the fallopian tube. But if the fallopian tubes are blocked, or partially blocked, then two things could possibly happen:
- the sperm cannot reach and fertilize the egg in the fallopian tube. This results in infertility, commonly called tubal factor infertility.
- in the case of partial blockage, the sperm could manage to get through to the egg and fertilize it, but the fertilized egg cannot descend and implant itself in the uterus. This results in tubal or ectopic pregnancy.
Note: blockage can occur in either one or both tubes.
Causes of fallopian tube blockage
- Pelvic inflamatory disease (P.I.D.)
- STDs e.g. chlamydis or gonorrhea
- Uterine infection resulting from abortion or miscsrriage
- Ruptured appendix
- Abdominal surgery
- Previous ectopic pregnancy
Symptoms of fallopian Tubes blockage
In most cases, fallopian tubes blockage does not have symptoms. However, a certain type of fallopian tube blockage called hydrosalpinx has symptoms such as:
- lower abdominal pain
- unusual vaginal discharge.
Hydrosalpinx is a situation where the fallopian tube(s) dilates (widens in diameter) and is filled with fluid. This fluid blocks both the egg and the sperm from meeting. Thus, fertilization and pregnancy are obstructed.
How Fallopian Tube Blockage is Diagnosed
Fallopian tube blockage is usually diagnosed through an x-ray called Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). Before HSG is carried out, a dye is injected through the cervix using tiny tubes.
In a normal situation, the dye flows throgh the uterus, through the fallopian tubes and spills out through the ovaries around the pelvic area. This means that the falloppian tubes are not blocked.
However, if the dye does not pass through the fallopian tubes, it means they are blocked.
Laparoscopy is a minor surgery whereby one or more small cuts are done on the abdomen. Then a tiny camera called laparoscope is inserted through the cut. This enables doctors to see the abdominal organs and sometimes make repairs without making larger cut that will take longer time to heal.
Treatment for Fallopian Tube Blockage
In event of one fallopian tube being blocked, medication can be given to increase ovulation in the other unblocked fallopian tube which in turn, increases chances of pregnancy. Thus, one can still get pregnant if one of the tubes is open and healthy.
- Laparoscopy (surgery)
Laparoscopic surgery is used to open the blocked fallopian tube(s) or to remove scar tissue that caused the blockage.
However, success rate for the surgery depends on certain factors such as:
- Age (the younger the better)
- Cause of the blockage
- Extent of the blockage (the lesser the extent or seriousnes, the better)
- Location of the blockage
Note: If the blockage is very serious such as having multiple adhesion and scar tissues within the fallopian tubes, laparoscopy may not yield positive result. Laparoscopy may not also work in event of hydrosalpinx. IVF is recommended in both cases.