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Blocked Fallopian Tubes: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Blocked Fallopian Tubes: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive organs; they are channels that connect the ovaries and the uterus. Every month during ovulation, the fallopian tubes carry an egg from an ovary to the uterus. The tubes are also called salpinges. If the tubes are blocked due to some reason, it can be a cause of infertility. In certain cases, blocked fallopian tubes manifest themselves through certain symptoms.

While, at other times, it may be asymptomatic, which implies that the disorder does not show any external symptoms. Such incidence gets diagnosed only when women experience fertility concerns and are unable to conceive. This is considered to be a condition rather than a disorder.

Blocked fallopian tubes or hydrosalpinx is associated with fallopian tubes that are filled with serous fluid due to various factors.

Symptoms

Blocked fallopian tubes symptoms may become apparent through certain signs shown by the patients. However, not all cases have external manifestations as discussed earlier in the article.

In such asymptomatic cases, wherein there are no symptoms, the condition can be identified only during medical investigations when the patient experiences fertility concerns.

The possible blocked fallopian tubes symptoms are:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy in the fallopian tubes
  • Inability to conceive
  • Mild, niggling pain on one side of the abdomen
  • Pelvic pain
  • Heavy and painful periods

Causes

The following are the possible causes of the condition:

Proximal tubal occlusion

The condition occurs after occlusion of the fimbriae with consecutive storage of the serous secretion of the tubal endothelium. This occlusion might develop as a result of adhesion caused by infections of the lower pelvis, endometriosis, or atrophy-induced senium.

Hydrosalpinx

The primary cause of hydrosalpinx is the fallopian tube getting filled with fluids. This happens as a result of a blockage due to certain medical conditions as mentioned above.

The egg that is released from the ovary during ovulation gets captured by the fimbriae of an open fallopian tube. This egg then moves down through the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it may undergo the process of fertilization. Fluid-filled fallopian tubes make it difficult for the egg to travel through them and reach the uterus, disrupting the scope of getting fertilized.

blocked fallopian tubes

Pelvic Inflammation Disease (PID)

This can lead to hydrosalpinx or scarring.

Salpingitis Isthmica Nodosa (SIN)

This is considered to be the result of previous inflammatory condition in the fallopian tube. It may also be related to endometriosis.

However, there is no conclusive evidence to establish the reasons behind SIN. This condition may lead to pregnancy in the fallopian tube, known as ectopic pregnancy, or a higher risk of infertility.

Personal history of ectopic pregnancy can increase the risk of developing tubal blockages.

Tubal ligation

Sterilization of the tubes may also lead to the medical condition of blocked fallopian tubes.

Past abdominal surgery

A past surgery in the abdomen, especially of the fallopian tubes, may cause tubal blockages.

Risk Factors

Prevalence of one or more of the below factors in personal medical history is considered to raise the risk of developing this medical condition:

  • Infections of the lower pelvis like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Abdominal and/or Pelvic Surgery
  • Endometriosis
  • Atrophy-induced senium
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of blocked fallopian tubes usually follows a combination of physical investigation and medical tests.

Here is the process that is generally followed:

Physical investigation

Your doctor will want to know about the symptoms that you may be experiencing. In case your condition is asymptomatic, he/she is most likely to conduct a physical examination of your abdomen and then advise you to undertake some diagnostic tests.

Medical tests

The lab tests that you may be recommended are:

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): For this test, a dye is passed through the cervix. This helps in highlighting the fallopian tube and uterine cavity. X-rays of these organs are taken to track the presence of abnormalities. A regular ultrasound will not be able to detect blocked fallopian tubes. Hence, this test may be suggested. Ideally, this test is conducted within the first half of your menstrual cycle.

Laparoscopy: This is another test that enables medical specialists to get a close look at the prevalence of abnormalities in the female reproductive system. It diagnoses the presence of abnormalities like PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) and endometriosis, which affects fertility.

This test is considered to be more effective in diagnosing blockages in the tubes as compared to HSG. If possible, the blockage(s) may also be removed during the test.

Treatment

The treatment for the medical condition depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Below are the available methods of treatment:

  • For blocked fallopian tubes induced by endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), treating these conditions will help in unblocking the fallopian tubes as well. For instance, surgical removal of growths in those with endometriosis will improve the chances of conception.
  • IVF (in vitro fertilization) or tubal litigation reversal can be advised to reverse the condition of blocked fallopian tubes. This generally enhances the chances of the released egg to travel to the uterus and get fertilized. There are various methods of surgical interventions like fallope ring, filshie clip, pomeroy occlusion, and hulka clip that can be recommended.
  • A woman below the age of 35 years with a partner who has a normal sperm count has higher chances of being effectively treated through surgery. However, women with burned tubes or tubes measuring lesser than 6 cms or with ends of the tubes removed have a lesser chance of benefitting through surgical repair.
  • The tubal disease caused due to proximal tubal occlusion usually cannot be treated.

Learn more about women’s health issues here.

Ovulation Calculator

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Conditions We Treat: Tubal Disease https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gynecology_obstetrics/specialty_areas/fertility-center/conditions-we-treat/tubal-disease.html Accessed September 21, 2021

Hydrosalpinx https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/hydrosalpinx  Accessed September 21, 2021

Is surgical repair of the fallopian tubes ever appropriate? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760895/ Accessed September 21, 2021

Blocked Fallopian Tubes

https://hospitals.jefferson.edu/diseases-and-conditions/blocked-fallopian-tubes.html Accessed September 21, 2021

Problems with the Fallopian Tubes

https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/infertility/problems-with-the-fallopian-tubes-and-abnormalities-in-the-pelvis Accessed September 21, 2021

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Sep 21, 2021
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.