t is no big surprise that with so many complex functions going on every single minute, the human body is prone to suffering from some stoppage or blockages.
There are so many women who complain of blocked fallopian tubes around the world. The anatomy of fallopian tubes looks like – two thin tubes which are attached to both the sides of the uterus. Their main function is to lead the fertilized egg from the ovary to the uterus for implantation.
But when, the egg is unable to reach the uterus due to an obstruction in the fallopian tubes, a woman is said to be suffering from blockage of the fallopian tubes. This is also known as the ‘Tubal Factor Infertility.” This blockage can happen in either of the ovaries or at times, even in the both of them. Almost 40 percent of the infertile women have the problem of blockage in their fallopian tubes.
Women, who have this problem, usually do not have any symptoms that indicate any sort of blockage. This is exactly why, as long as we have regular periods, we think everything is fine. Blocked fallopian tubes can go undetected for years, right up to the time you try to get pregnant.
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Symptoms to Watch Out For
Often, the blockage in the fallopian tubes does not show any symptoms. Most of the women suffering from this problem have no idea about it until they try to get pregnant and fail. However, in some cases a woman may experience mild pain or cramps on either side of the abdomen due to the blockage. This usually happens when the blockage is of a certain type called the “Hydrosalpinx.” In this medical condition, a certain fluid fills up inside the fallopian tubes and causes a massive blockage.
Other symptoms are –
- Pain during sexual intercourse,
- Pain during urination,
- Pain during periods,
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
- Endometriosis – in this there is an excessive growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. It can also grow inside the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, vagina, pelvic cavity, etc.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – the inflammation sometimes reaches the fallopian tubes and causes a blockage.
- Ruptured appendix.
- Prior abdominal surgery.
- Prior ectopic pregnancy – the egg which attaches itself outside the uterus may break down and travel to the fallopian tubes causing the blockage.
- Any prior surgery or affliction in relation to the fallopian tubes.
- Abortion or miscarriage – the egg that is rejected from the body or taken out, can sometimes go and get stuck in the fallopian tubes.
- Uterine infection.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Genital tuberculosis.
- Previous Caesarean.
Endometriosis and Blocked Fallopian Tubes
If you are having a normal menstrual cycle, the usual course of it is that the lining of the uterus also known as the Endometrium, begins to become thicker and thicker in order to prepare for a pregnancy. However, if the egg is not fertilized and you don’t become pregnant, the endometrium breaks down and sheds to a new process is started all over again.
In this condition (Endometriosis), tissues which are very similar to the endometrium start to grow on the outside of the uterus. These overgrowths are usually in places growth is not expected, and the doctors are not very clear about the reason behind such growths. These growths can also appear in or on the surface of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the pelvic cavity lining and other structures which support the uterus. At times, these growths are surprisingly also found in various places like the cervix, vagina, bladder, anus, bowel and more such places.
This condition often results into irritation, formation of scar tissues and inflammation. This certain build-up of the tissues on these surfaces can lead to blockage of the path from where the fertilized egg travels to the uterus or, prevent the fertilization of the gg altogether. Another problem that this may pose is that the formation of the scar tissue, causes blockage inside the fallopian tubes, which causes obstruction in the meeting of the egg and the sperm cell.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
- Painful urination,
- Painful sexual intercourse,
- Pelvic pain,
- Pain in bowel movements or during relieving yourself,
- Sharp abdominal aches,
- Lower back aches,
- Heavy bleeding during periods,
- Spotting or slight bleeding between periods,
- Tiredness or exhaustion.
Effect on Fertility
Every month when the body prepares for a pregnancy, either of the ovaries releases an egg. The egg is supposed to travel from the ovary to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. The sperm cell has the job to swim up from the cervix through the fallopian tubes to finally fertilize the egg. The process of fertilization is completed before the egg reaches the uterus.
However, if either or both of the fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg fails to reach the uterus for implantation. Another scenario is that due to the blockage, the sperm is unable to reach the egg inside the fallopian tubes. There is a possibility that the tubes are wholly or partially blocked. In such cases, the risks of a tubal or ectopic pregnancies increase drastically.
The blockage of fallopian tubes is a very commonly seen cause of infertility. The sperm cell and the mature egg are supposed to meet in the fallopian tube. The blockage can either prevent them from meeting, or prevent the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus depending on where the blockage really is. If a woman has both her tubes blocked, then there are no chances of having a pregnancy without surgical help. If the tubes are not wholly blocked and can be treated without surgery, the chances of getting pregnant are there but, the chances of it being an ectopic pregnancy are even higher. This happens because it becomes extremely hard for the egg to move to the uterus. In such cases, doctors usually recommend an In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) method.
If only one fallopian tube is blocked, you will most likely not require any other treatments. The blockage shall be not come in your way because the fertilized egg can still travel through the other fallopian tube. In such cases, fertility drugs are given to increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
The blockage in the fallopian tubes is diagnosed with the help of an x-ray known as the “Hysterosalpingogram” (HSG), which has specially been designed for this purpose. In this test, some dye is placed inside the cervix of the patient with the help of a small tube. Once the dye has been properly administered, the doctor proceeds with the x-ray imaging of the pelvic area.
If it happens to be normal, the dye usually travels just like the sperm cell through the uterus then the fallopian tubes and finally spills into the pelvic cavity. However, if there is any blockage, the dye will not reach the pelvic area. It will stop wherever there is a blockage inside the fallopian tubes.
Before you jump to conclusions right after your tests, remember that about 15 percent of the women who go for this test have a wrong result in the first go. This is why, the doctors conducts two of these tests for confirmation. The second test is done after some time or, at times an entirely different test is advised.
Other possible tests are –
- Exploratory laparoscopic surgery,
- Blood tests to check for Chlamydia may also be ordered.
Laparoscopic Surgery – if you have only a few blockages in the fallopian tubes then there are more chances of success. If your one whole tube is blocked but your overall health is good, then there is a good 40% chance. However, this surgery has the same failure rate as its success rate.
Fertility Drugs – if only one fallopian tube is blocked, the doctor will ask you to skip the complex medical processes and opt for fertility drugs.
The drugs are usually a year-long course, where the woman is supposed to take them regularly and attempt to get pregnant. The prescribed medicines help the eggs on the open side to ovulate better and pass through the fallopian tubes.
In Vitro Fertilization Treatment – this treatment involves usage of fertility drugs for ovarian stimulation. Eggs are obtained from the ovary using a needle guided by an ultra- sound. After this, the eggs are fertilized in the lab and implanted into the uterus once they turn into a healthy zygote.
This method, completely avoids the Fallopian Tubes, so the presence of blockages do not matter.
Salpingectomy – in this procedure, the doctor will put you under the knife to remove a part of the fallopian tubes. This surgery is usually performed to accommodate hydrosalpinx before the doctor prepares for an IVF. It is important to do so because according to various reports, performing IVF without the hydrosalpinx defeats the entire purpose of IVF, the success rate goes down by half at least. this procedure is done to remove the part of the fallopian tube which has the hydrosalpinx or the blockage, so to say.
Your surgeon by the help of this surgery will make a new opening in the fallopian tubes which will be the closest to the ovaries. However, the effect of this surgery is a temporary one and a new scar tissue may form at any time after 3 to 6 months of the surgery.
Fimbrioplasty – this surgical option is kept exclusively for women whose fimbriae have been damaged. In case the fimbriae get attached to the cilia due to a scar tissue, the egg is prevented from getting fertilized by the sperm cell. To undo this damage or to repair it for the time being, fimbrioplasty is is recommended. During the surgery, the doctor will re-build the fimbriae.
The technicalities of this process make it very difficult and very few doctors are able to handle it properly. A lot of insurance companies do not insure this surgery.
Selective Tubal Cannulation – in this non-surgical process an occlusion is made in the fallopian tubes exactly where they meet the uterus. With the help of fluoroscopy or hysteroscopy, the doctors insert a catheter inside the fallopian tubes which goes through the uterus and the cervix. This process has a 60 percent success rate and is comparatively easier than the rest.
Tubal Ligation removal – this surgical process is done with the help of microscope in order to remove the ligation inside the tubes for facilitation of pregnancy. During this surgery, the doctor tries to undo the previous tying up of the fallopian tubes and re-attachment in order to help with fertility. This process has a very good success rate of 75 percent.
Complications Post Surgery – Mostly, women who have blocked fallopian tubes or have undergone treatment for the same have an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy. For instance, if the tubes are partially blocked there is a chance that the fertilized egg gets stuck inside the tubes and is implanted there. This condition is called an ectopic pregnancy and needs immediate medical help. Keeping the risks involved, doctors mostly recommend IVF rather than the surgeries if the woman is otherwise found to be healthy.
Home Remedies for Removal of Blockage
- Fertility Cleansing – this method is extremely helpful in cleaning out the reproductive system and increasing the blood flow to this area. This is also the first step for natural fallopian tube therapy. It involves the usage of certain herbs which are absorbed by the body and act on the concerned area. After this method, it is easier for the body to absorb the other remedies.
- Systematic Enzyme therapy – this therapy mainly involves usage of enzymes in order to help the body reduce swelling, pain and even scar tissue build-up. Traditionally, this therapy has been used for athletes, aged people suffering from arthritis and people who have auto-immune disorders.
- Fertility Massage – this is one of many natural ways to improve the fertility of a woman. The massage helps in increasing circulation and break down the adhesions or any other blockages.
- Clear Passage therapy – this therapy uses no drugs or medicines to cure blockages. There are just about 9 clinics in US and UK, and women from all over the world travel to these clinics for therapy.
- Castor Oil therapy – castor oil has been used over centuries to help cure ailments, especially those related to the reproductive system. Packs of castor oil are applied externally. You can make one for yourself – use a thick cloth and soak it in castor oil. Place the cloth on the lower abdomen. This helps in better circulation and softening of tissues.
- Herbal therapy – there are many herbs that have been traditionally used to help support fallopian tube health, like –
Goldenseal, Ginger Root, Hawthorn, Peony Root, Wild Yam, Dong Quai, Uva Ursi.