The fallopian tubes form part of a woman’s reproductive system and are found in a woman’s pelvic region on either side of the uterus. These tubes connect the uterus and ovaries. Once a mature ovary is released at the time of ovulation, the tiny-hair-like cells within the fallopian tubes gently sweep the egg along the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If fertilization occurs, it usually happens in the fallopian tubes. Many women with fertility problems find that they have problem with fallopian tubes. So the mature ovary is unable to move towards the uterus and sperm is also unable to travel to the egg in the fallopian tubes.
Symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Some women with the condition experience the following symptoms:
This symptom becomes apparent when one or both fallopian tubes have obstruction. The mature egg is unable to move towards the uterus. It is believed that up to 40% of women with fertility problems have the blockage.
2. Pelvic Pain
There is a specific kind of blocked fallopian tubes called hydrosalpinx which may cause mild, nagging and constant pain in the lower abdomen. You may also have severe and persistent pain, sometimes only on one side of the lower abdominal area.
3. Asymptomatic Signs
Sometimes, there are no overt clues that you are experiencing the problem. Many women are undiagnosed because pain is uncommon in this condition.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
There are some pre-existing circumstances, making it more likely for some women to experience the condition:
1. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea increase your risk of occluded tubes. Other non-STD infections can also increase your risk. Infections may result in scar tissue formation in the tubes.
2. Ectopic Pregnancy
The fertilized egg remains and implants in the fallopian tubes rather than moving towards the uterus, creating a blockage in the tubes.
3. Fibroids in the Uterus
This increased tissue mass can obscure the fallopian tubes.
When uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus, it may grow inside the fallopian tubes and cause a blockage.
5. Lower Abdominal Surgery Complications
Surgery such as caesarean section can build up scar tissue near the fallopian tubes and result in a blockage.
The fallopian tubes become filled with fluid and become blocked.
Diagnosis of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
1. Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
HSG is a specialized x-ray. A radio-opaque dye is injected through the cervix. If there is no obstruction in the fallopian tubes, the dye will show up on the x-ray outlining the uterus and tubes. There is a small percentage of false positive results where the x-ray indicates an occlusion where there is none. If the doctor suspects this, he may order the HSG repeated.
A normal ultrasound can detect a blockage when the fallopian tubes are inflamed. The ultrasound works by using high-frequency waves to create an image of the internal organs on a computer.
Doctors use this method to examine the uterus with a device called a hysteroscope. It is inserted through the cervix into the womb. Blocked fallopian tubes can be dislodged and fertility can be improved.
A saline solution is injected into the uterus to make it swell. An ultrasound is then used to view the distended/swollen uterus and the surrounding fallopian tubes. A blockage will not allow the saline solution to flow into the tubes and this will be seen by the doctor on the ultrasound.
5. Blood Tests
Blood tests are ordered to check for the presence of an infection. Appropriate treatment like antibiotics is then given to eradicate the infection.
This method uses a device called a laparoscope to view the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. The laparoscope is inserted into the pelvic area through a small incision below the navel. An obstruction found can also be dislodged.
Natural Treatments for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
1. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Stopping these unhealthy habits will not only improve the health of your fallopian tube but your overall health as well.
2. Reduce Stress
Introduce meditation into your daily routine together with some breathing exercises to minimize your stress. This in turn will reduce inflammation in your body.
3. Take up Gentle Exercise
Yoga is believed to bring balance and healing to your body. The poses Setu Bandhasana (also called supported bridge pose) and Viparita Karani (also named legs on wall pose) are said to be helpful in improving fertility.
4. Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods
Increase foods which are high in anti-oxidants like fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid animal meat that contains hormones.
5. Perform Massage
Either perform fertility massage on yourself or go to a certified therapist. This type of massage can improve circulation in the area, decrease any inflammation and break up any occlusions.
6. Traditional Chinese Medicine
Use various herbal medicines to improve fertility such as garlic, red peony root, ginger root and hawthorn to encourage blood circulation, reduce inflammation and unblock the fallopian tubes. Consult a certified therapist for exact dosage.
Medical Treatments for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
It is important to note that although the fallopian tubes are unblocked, occlusions may recur with the formation of new scar tissue. Different parts of the tubes may become occluded: either near the ovaries (distal), in the middle (mid-segment) or at the end of the tube near the uterus (proximal).The course of treatment will depend on the location and the severity of the blockage.
1. Fertility Drugs
These medications stimulate ovulation to increase your chances of producing a mature egg. Examples of these medications are Clomid and Serophene. This method will only be useful if you have a partial occlusion or only one tube is blocked.
2. Laparoscopic Surgery
Instruments can be used in conjunction with the laparoscope to dislodge any blockage. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
This surgery involves removing a part of the blocked fallopian tubes.
4. Selective Tubal Cannulation
This non-surgical procedure is used when the occlusion occurs at the proximal locationnear the uterus. The blockage is cleared with a cannula.
5. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
If the blockage and infertility can't be treated but you want to get pregnant, the doctor may remove your egg to be fertilized with your partner’s sperm outside your body. The fertilized egg is then re-inserted into your uterus.