Unlike other Infertility disorders, blocked fallopian tubes do not generally show specific symptoms. Women with tubal blockage do not even know that they have any ailment. Many women discover their tubal blockage during infertility evaluations when trying to conceive.
A blocked fallopian tube prevents an egg from meeting the sperm or reaching the uterus, thus, resulting in no conception.
Treating the tubal block or overcoming these is essential to make pregnancy possible, provided the treatment is carried out on time to avoid complications.
What Are Tubal Blockages?
Fallopian tubes connect at one end with the womb, and the other end is free hanging near the ovaries to facilitate the ovulated egg traveling within the tube to meet the sperm. Blockages or tubal blockages are the barriers inside or at either end of the tubes that do not allow the male sperm and female ova to meet and result in a successful pregnancy.
Pregnancy occurs after the fulfillment of the following steps:
- Release of an egg from one of two ovaries in a woman’s body
- Joining of the egg with sperm in the fallopian tube (fertilization)
- Transport of the fertilized egg from a fallopian tube to the uterus or womb
- Attaching of the embryo/fertilized egg to the wall of the uterus (implantation)
Infertility can occur due to a problem in any or several of the events mentioned above.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Here is a quick review of the causes of blocked fallopian tubes:
- STI/Sexually Transmitted Infections, such as Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Tuberculosis
- PID/Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in which the tubes may be filled with fluid and adhesions that block the tubular passage.
- As a result of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg remains stuck and fails to move toward the womb for further development), the fallopian tube may get blocked.
- Fallopian tube surgery can lead to tubal blockage.
- Burst appendix or appendix infection causes blocked fallopian tubes.
- Fibroids can cause pressure effects and may lead to blocked tubes.
Blocked Fallopian Tube Symptoms
The following symptoms indicate that you should check for blocked tubes:
- The inability to conceive despite trying for one year may be the first sign in most cases.
- Mild to regular pain on one or both sides of the abdomen.
- History of Tuberculosis, history of PID/Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and infection of the female genital tract.
- Pain in the lower abdominal region accompanied by painful intercourse and urination.
- History of infections like appendicitis, open surgeries, etc.
Diagnosis of Damaged or Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Various simple procedures help detect Fallopian tube obstructions. There are three techniques for imaging or intervening in order to identify tubal enlargement or blockages.
This test is used to identify tubal damage. In an HSG technique:
- The uterus is filled with a dye-containing fluid to provide visual contrast that helps visualize the fallopian tubes and judge spillage of dye indicating tubal patency
- The uterus and fallopian tubes are viewed using an X-ray.
Instead of dyes or X-rays, an HSN employs a salt solution and a high-resolution ultrasound. This procedure is less invasive and provides a specialist with a clear visual of the uterus and pelvic region.
Chromotubation During Laparoscopy
It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure under general anesthesia in which two/ three incisions (cuts) are made:
- One/ two in the pelvic area for a better view of the reproductive organs
- One in the belly for inserting a fine telescope (laparoscope).
The chromotubation procedure (dye test) starts after everything is ready and fills the womb with a light-blue liquid. The dye will come out from the ends of the Fallopian tubes into the pelvic region if they are open, but if nothing comes out, a blockage is probably the reason.
Types of Tubal Blockages Depending on The Location of The Obstruction
Understanding the type of fallopian tube blockage is crucial before choosing a treatment option. Based on their occurrence, tubal blockages can be either:
- When a single fallopian tube is blocked, it is called a unilateral tubal blockage.
- When both fallopian tubes are blocked, it is called a bilateral tubal blockage.
Moreover, there are three possible blockage places:
1. Proximal: The blockage is close to the uterus.
2. Interstitial: The blockage lies in the middle of the fallopian tube.
3. Distal: When the blockage occurs at or near the end of the tube.
Depending on where the blockage is, several different treatment approaches have varying degrees of success.
Treatment Options for Fallopian Tube Blockage
Various treatment options for fallopian tube blockages are available, depending on the type of blockage. In specific cases, surgical removal is recommended to remove the blockage.
- Laparoscopy and tubal cannulation is advised when the tube is healthy otherwise, the tubal block is at either end and easily amenable to the opening of a block.
- Laparoscopic removal of the tube is advised when the tube appears damaged, the block is in the interstitial area, and there is fluid seen within the tubes (hydrosalphinx). Such tubes do not help with conception, in fact, they can cause reduced chances of implantation due to the presence of the toxic fluid collected in the tube.
Conception With IVF Intervention
Several causes for fallopian tube blockages are unpreventable. But using barrier contraceptives during intercourse can lower your chance of developing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and thus tubal blockage.
Still, conception is no more a far-fetched idea for women with blocked fallopian tubes. IVF is an option for a woman if the damage cannot be easily repaired. IVF could help a woman become pregnant even in cases when she no longer has fallopian tubes!
Q 1. Is it possible for an individual with only one fallopian tube to conceive?
Ans: Indeed, without a doubt, a woman with a single fallopian tube can conceive and bear a child if the other tube is perfectly healthy and the blocked tube is not actively infected.
Q 2. What conditions can result in a single fallopian tube?
Ans: A woman might have a single fallopian tube for various reasons, including:
● When the other tube had to be removed for some infection.
● Damage/Blocked tube.
● Born with a single fallopian tube.
Q 3. Is there any natural way to open blocked fallopian tubes?
Ans: Some dietary and lifestyle adjustments may help increase female fertility. Natural remedies, on the other hand, have little to no scientific support for their capacity for curing blocked fallopian tubes. Manual pelvic physical treatment seems to be effective occasionally.
Q 4: What should I be careful about is trying for natural conception with unilaterally, or partially blocked tubes?
Ans: When trying for natural conception in the above circumstances, one should be careful of Ectopic Pregnancy. Here the pregnancy happens, but, the fetus gets implanted outside the uterus. Fallopian tubes are the most common site. Previous history of infections, surgeries, and unhealthy tubes can predispose one to ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is usually an emergency and needs to be treated in most cases with laparoscopic removal of the affected tube. Please ensure you do an early pregnancy test when menses are missed and meet your obstetrician early on.