Fallopian tubes are thin tubes located on each side of a woman’s uterus that help lead the mature egg from the ovaries to the uterus. When an obstruction prevents the egg from traveling down the tube, this is referred to as having a blocked fallopian tube, also known as tubal factor infertility. This can occur within one or both fallopian tubes and is responsible for causing infertility in up to 30% of infertile women. It is unusual for women with blocked fallopian tubes to experience any physical symptoms. Because of this, many women assume that if they are having regular periods, their fertility is fine. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and an infertility doctor Cary is needed.
Infertility Due to Blocked Fallopian Tubes
When ovulation occurs each month, an egg is released from the ovary, travels through the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place, and into the uterus. If one or both fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg cannot reach the uterus, and the sperm which travels from the cervix through the uterus then through fallopian tubes to get to the egg, cannot actually reach the egg, preventing fertilization and pregnancy. When the fallopian tube is only partially blocked, there is an increased risk of a tubal pregnancy, commonly referred to as an ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Unlike anovulation, where irregular menstrual cycles may hint at a problem, blocked fallopian tubes rarely cause any symptoms. Typically, the only “symptom” women who have blocked fallopian tubes experience is infertility. When a woman tries to conceive for one year with no luck, their infertility doctor Cary will order a specialized X-ray called a hysterosalpingogram, or HSG, to check the fallopian tubes along with other basic fertility testing. Hydrosalpinx is a specific kind of blocked fallopian tube where the blockage causes the tube to dilate and fill with fluid, which can sometimes be known to cause lower abdominal pain and unusual vaginal discharge. If this happens, the fluid blocks the egg and sperm, resulting in the prevention of fertilization and pregnancy.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
The most common cause of blocked fallopian tubes is a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which most commonly results from sexually transmitted diseases. Even if PID is no longer present, a history of PID or pelvic infection increases the risk of blocked tubes. Other potential causes of blocked fallopian tubes include:
- Current or history of an STD infection, specifically chlamydia or gonorrhea
- History of uterine infection caused by an abortion or miscarriage
- History of a ruptured appendix
- History of abdominal surgery
- Previous ectopic pregnancy
- Prior surgery involving the fallopian tubes, including tubal ligation
Since most of these infections are caused by a sexually transmitted infection, regular screening for STIs, as well as getting worrisome symptoms checked out right away, is an important step in preventing tubal infertility. If the STI or pelvic infection is caught early enough, treating it may help prevent the development of scar tissue, but the longer the infection is present, the higher the risk of scar tissue forming and creating inflamed or blocked tubes. Treating the disease sooner than later with a quick antibiotic treatment can help prevent further damage, and may make fertility treatments or a later surgical repair more likely to succeed.
NCCRM Infertility Doctors in Cary, NC
When just one fallopian tube is blocked, getting pregnant on your own or with low-tech treatments may be a possibility. However, when both tubes are blocked, surgery or IVF treatment may be necessary. Be sure to talk to your infertility doctor Cary at NCCRM about all of your options, contact us today to learn more!