One of the most common causes of infertility today is blocked fallopian tubes. The medical term for tubal blockage is known as tubal occlusion. Even though it is a common disorder, there is a lack of awareness on the causes of blocked fallopian tubes, and their symptoms as many times its associated symptoms are absent. In the blog by Dr. Manish Banker, Ahmedabad, let us understand all the important aspects of tubal blockage such as the causes of blocked fallopian tubes, tube blockage symptoms, risk factors, treatments, and more.
What are fallopian tubes?
Before learning the signs and causes of blocked fallopian tubes, let us first understand the purpose of a fallopian tube. Fallopian tubes are tubes that are muscular in nature and are lined with structures that resemble hair. These structures help the egg travel from the ovaries to the womb as they move in both directions. They are also vital organs during intercourse as they help sperm travel up to the womb. Fallopian tubes are extremely important during the process of conception as eggs ideally fertilize in that area. Therefore, damage to the fallopian tubes can cause scarring that can invariably lead to tubal blockage.
What is the connection between fertility and fallopian tubes?
As mentioned above blocked fallopian tubes can prevent fertilization. Fallopian tubes form the sole passageway for the egg and sperm to meet. Therefore, tubal blockage can obstruct this process. When there is a blockage in the tubes, one can only conceive a baby with proper medical attention and treatment. If these tubes are not wholly but partially blocked then there is still a possibility for conception. Moreover, the chance of having an ectopic pregnancy increases during partial tubal blockage. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus. If blockage is found but only in one tube, then the chances of it affecting pregnancy are low as the egg and sperm can travel through the healthy fallopian tube.
Blocked Fallopian Tube- Symptoms
A common tube blockage symptom that women may experience is pain in the belly or the pelvic area. Women may also experience this pain often during their period. In some cases, blocked fallopian tubes can lead to ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are mostly detected through a scan as one may not necessarily experience unusual symptoms. The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are usually similar to a normal pregnancy. Women may commonly experience stomach pain on either side, bleeding, fatigue etc. tube blockage symptoms may include:
- Pelvic pain
- Severe pain during intercourse
- Stomach pain
- Pain in the lower back
- Heavy periods or spotting between cycles
- Exhaustion or tiredness
- Pain during urination
Now that we have understood the symptoms of a blocked fallopian tube, let us understand the causes of blocked fallopian tubes.
What Causes Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
Blockage of fallopian tubes commonly occur due to scar tissue and pelvic adhesions. Some other common causes of blocked fallopian tubes are:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease- This disease is one of the most common causes of blocked fallopian tubes. It can cause scarring, hydrosalpinx- wherein the fallopian tubes are blocked due to a watery substance.
- Endometriosis- Second one in the causes of blocked fallopian tubes is the condition of endometriosis where the tissue grows outside the lining of the uterus causing adhesions. These adhesions can block the tubes.
- STDs- Diseases transmitted sexually such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can affect the tubes by scaring them. They can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
- History of ectopic pregnancy- Causes of blocked fallopian tubes also include a medical history of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can damage the tubes leading to blockage.
- Fibroids- Uterine fibroids are caused when the tube attaches to the uterus due to benign growths in the uterus.
- History of abdominal surgery- Surgery in the past, particularly in the fallopian tube can lead to adhesions in the pelvic area that can block fallopian tubes
As the causes of blocked fallopian tubes are plenty, one must immediately seek medical attention the minute they spot any signs or symptoms. Tube blockage symptoms may be similar to pregnancy and therefore it is important to take a scan as soon as possible. As the signs and causes of blocked fallopian tubes may differ from person to person, it is recommended to seek professional assistance immediately upon observing any abnormalities.
Blocked tubes test- How does one diagnose for tubal blockage?
Identifying fallopian tubal blockages can be a little difficult as they can open and close, so it might be tricky to determine if they are blocked or closed. In order to accurately diagnose tubal blockage, a doctor conducts a basic evaluation first. There are 3 main blocked tubes test doctors conduct for a diagnosis. They are:
- X-Ray- Doctors conduct a hysterosalpingogram or an HSG test usually. In this procedure, the womb is injected with a dye that should flow into the tubes. If the stain is not detectable on the X-Ray, then the fallopian tubes are probably damaged or affected.
- Ultrasound- An ultrasound is also an effective blocked tube test. Ultrasounds use sound waves to create a picture of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
- Laparoscopy- Laparoscopy is also conducted to study the fallopian tubes. In this process, a tiny medical-grade camera is used to take pictures of the tubes.
Laparoscopy can provide accurate information for tubal blockage, however, the causes of blocked fallopian tubes are many and symptoms may vary so doctors might recommend a different blocked tube test based on the patient’s condition. For example, doctors may not recommend laparoscopy immediately as it is invasive. They would recommend options according to the patient’s medical history.
Blocked Fallopian Tube- Treatments
Treatment options depend on how severely one or both tubes are affected. If you’re healthy with only one tubal blockage, you can still have a successful pregnancy. Your doctor might prescribe some fertility drugs to regulate and increase ovulation for the unaffected fallopian tube. However, this might not be feasible if there is a blockage on both tubes. If that is the case, then tubal blockage treatment includes:
In some cases, laparoscopic surgery is beneficial to re-open blocked fallopian tubes and discard scar tissue. However, it also varies depending on
- Your age
- How severe the condition is
- Where exactly is the blockage/damage
- The causes of blocked fallopian tubes
There is also a chance of ectopic pregnancy post-surgery and therefore after tubal blockage treatment, one would closely be monitored by the doctor to explore the best suitable option for you. Surgical treatment however is not the hard-fast rule for any case of tubal blockage.
Many professionals recommend IVF for patients who have deep scarring, or endometriosis that is advanced, and for females whose male partner is experiencing infertility. The doctor, upon analyzing, would suggest if surgery or directly opting for IVF would be best for your situation. IVF is a good solution for tubal blockage because the procedure avoids any contact with the tubes. In the case of hydrosalpinx, doctors may surgically first remove the affected tube and then recommend IVF for you. Do not be afraid of IVF as it is a trusted and tested way to conceive babies. Visit a specialist such as Dr. Manish Banker himself to understand your options. In the light of COVID-19, your safety is our priority and you can be assured that all the necessary precautions are being taken in the hospital to keep you protected from the virus.
Healthy fallopian tubes are vital for conception. The causes of blocked fallopian tubes are many and varied, just like the symptoms. Therefore, it is advisable to have regular check-ups with your doctor to detect any abnormalities at the early stage itself. The treatment options for tubal blockage are dependent on age, patient history, and the severity of the condition itself. A popular and sought treatment for tubal blockage is IVF.
If you enjoyed this blog on what is tubal blockage, causes of blocked fallopian tubes, signs, and more, then do visit our blog page by Dr. Manish Banker, Gujarat. We take all necessary precautions for COVID-19. If you are in Gujarat and you would like to book an appointment, then you can also visit this page.
1. What are blocked fallopian treatment options?
- Laparoscopy is used to remove the blockage in case your condition is mild. However, if the scarring is too severe, then treatment for tubal blockage may not be possible. Doctors may suggest alternatives like IVF in such cases.
2. How do you know if your fallopian tubes are blocked?
- Symptoms may vary from person to person. Sometimes, there might not be a symptom at all. Doctors may conduct a diagnosis through a laparoscopy or HSG test to understand if your tubes are blocked. These help in understanding if it is treatable or not.
3. Can I get pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes?
- Yes, pregnancy is possible in some cases. If the blockage is partial, meaning only in one tube or mild then pregnancy is possible. In some cases, people get pregnant after surgery or through the IVF procedure.
4. What causes blockage of fallopian tubes?
- The causes of blocked fallopian tubes are many. Some causes include pelvic inflammatory diseases, endometriosis, STDs, history of surgery, etc. As causes vary, doctors recommend a solution post-determining the severity of the situation.