Fallopian Tube Blockages
Fallopian tube blockages are a common cause of female infertility.
The fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus, play an important role in the reproductive process. When a woman ovulates, one of her ovaries releases an egg, which then travels down the fallopian tube to her uterus. Fertilization occurs when the egg joins together with sperm within the fallopian tube. If this happens, the fertilized egg (zygote) will continue to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it may attach to the uterine lining and begin developing into a fetus. A blockage within the fallopian tube can prevent this from occurring. Not only can a blockage stop sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it, but it can also prevent the egg from reaching the uterus. As such, if both fallopian tubes are completely blocked, it will be impossible to become pregnant without first receiving treatment for the blockages. If the fallopian tubes are only partially blocked, pregnancy can still occur, but there will be an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy under these circumstances.
Causes of Fallopian Tube Blockages
When a fallopian tube is blocked, it’s often due to the presence of scar tissue or pelvic adhesions, which can be caused by:
- Abdominal surgery
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea
Symptoms of Fallopian Tube Blockages
Fallopian tube blockages often don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. As a result, a woman might not realize that she has a blockage until she has difficulty getting pregnant and seeks care from a trained medical provider. However, in some cases fallopian tube blockages can cause mild pain on one side of the abdomen.
Although the blockages themselves usually don’t cause symptoms, the underlying condition that led to the blockage could cause symptoms. For example, endometriosis can cause pain, bleeding, fatigue, bloating and a number of other unpleasant symptoms.
Diagnosing Fallopian Tube Blockages
If a physician suspects that a woman’s fallopian tubes may be blocked, he or she will likely order a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is a type of X-ray that produces a video image of a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. After the woman either swallows or is injected with contrast dye, the radiologist watches the dye move through her reproductive system. If the dye gets stuck in one place, it can signal the presence of a blockage or a different structural abnormality.
If a hysterosalpingogram doesn’t produce conclusive results, the physician may need to order additional testing, potentially including laparoscopy.
Treatment for Fallopian Tube Blockages
Treatment for this condition often involves surgery to open blocked fallopian tubes or repair tubes that were damaged by infection or during an ectopic pregnancy. The specialists at Tampa General Hospital will recommend a treatment approach that’s tailored to your specific needs.