How do I know if I have blocked fallopian tubes?
Unlike other common gynecological conditions, blocked fallopian tubes rarely show any symptoms. Some women may have blocked fallopian tubes their entire life and not experience any symptoms.
A unique and rarer type of blocked fallopian tube called ‘hydrosalpinx’ may cause lower abdominal pain and unusual vaginal discharge, but not every woman will have these symptoms.
This is when your fallopian tube is blocked and filled with a clear watery fluid. The inflammatory fluid can leak into the uterine cavity and preventing normal implantation of the embryo.
How can the fallopian tubes affect fertility?
When ovulation occurs each month, an egg is released from one of the ovaries. It travels through the fallopian tubes and towards the uterus. The sperm need to swim from the cervix up into the uterus and into the fallopian tube where the egg has been released.
Fertilisation usually takes place in the fallopian tube when the egg and the sperm meet.
If one or both of the tubes are blocked, the sperm cannot reach the egg.
This means that fertilisation cannot happen and a pregnancy cannot be achieved. If only one of your tubes is blocked, then your specialist may suggest medication that encourages more frequent ovulation on the side of the unblocked tube.
Although blocked fallopian tubes can make it difficult to achieve a pregnancy, they are relatively easy to diagnose for a specialist.
Our caring, compassionate and discreet team at Footsteps To Fertility Centre is highly equipped with the skills and expertise to help you conceive your little bundle of joy.
How to diagnose blocked fallopian tubes?
If an individual or couple is struggling to conceive for no known reason, fertility specialists will often investigate the possibility of blocked tubes. There are several medical tests that can detect some type of blockage.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – An HSG is an x-ray test that uses a contrasting dye to view an obstruction in the fallopian tubes. The dye is inserted into a thin tube that is placed through the vagina and into the uterus. Once the uterus is filled with this dye, it will then spill into the fallopian tubes. X-rays are then taken to see if there is anything blocking the tubes. It is usually carried out without a general anesthetic.
Sonohysterography – Sonohysterography is a non-invasive procedure where ultrasound imaging is used instead of the potentially more damaging x-rays. Similar to the HSG, a thin tube is placed through the vagina and into the uterus to see if there is a blockage in the tubes. The ultrasound examination can also diagnose a hydrosalpinx and other issues such as ovarian cysts, endometrial polyps and uterine fibroids. It can be carried out without a general anesthetic.
Chromotubation – Chromotubati fallopian tube. The dye for this procedure is different from a HSG as it cannot be seenon is performed during a laparoscopy so that your specialist can see the dye spilling from the on an X-ray. This test is considered the most reliable way to determine if you have blocked tubes but does require surgery and a general anesthetic.
How can blocked fallopian tubes be treated?
Once our fertility specialist has diagnosed blocked fallopian tubes there are many different ways that they can be treated and unblocked.
If you only have one tube that is blocked, our fertility specialist may recommend continuing trying to conceive naturally as it is still possible to conceive if all other factors are normal.
If both tubes are blocked on HSG, an additional assessment may be recommended via laparoscopic surgery. The correction of blocked fallopian tubes is not always possible surgically and only about 7% are actually corrected. This may mean that IVF may be the only option if they are truly blocked tubes. IVF bypasses the need for fertilization to occur in the fallopian tubes by placing an embryo directly into the uterus.
If you are concerned about your fertility and think you may have blocked fallopian tubes, consulting a specialist will help put your mind at ease, answer any questions that you may have and can help you on the right path to pregnancy.