A woman may have fertility problems for a variety of reasons. The key is to understand why you are not conceiving, by having the right tests, and then discussing the course of action with your fertility consultant.
Tests will help your consultant see if you have any of the following conditions:
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, a thyroid issue, difficulty ovulating, scarring of the cervix or vagina, tubal disease, antibodies to sperm, age, prolactinoma, polyps and fibroids.
In this fact sheet, we learn more about blocked Fallopian tubes.
Fallopian tubes are of vital importance to conception. Their role is to capture an egg when it is released from the ovary each month, then transport the fertilised egg to the uterus. They are however remarkably delicate and can be damaged very easily, and can become blocked due to scar tissue, infection, and pelvic adhesions.
Blocked fallopian tubes don’t often cause symptoms, in fact many women don’t even know they have blocked tubes until they try to get pregnant and have trouble. (Although conditions that can lead to a blocked fallopian tube can be very painful, for example, endometriosis ).
However ,in some cases, they can lead to mild, regular pain on one side of the abdomen. This often happens in a type of blockage called a hydrosalpinx. This is when fluid (that can occur as a result of injury or infection) fills and enlarges a blocked fallopian tube, preventing the woman from becoming pregnant naturally.
Even when Hydrosalpinx affects only one tube, there is usually some damage to the other. In some severe cases, the condition is referred to as hydrosalpinges. In these cases, pregnancy will likely occur via IVF.
The causes of Hydrosalpinx
Damage to the fallopian tubes is usually caused by an untreated infection, most commonly one of the following:
Sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia or gonorrhoea
A previously ruptured appendix
A build-up of excessive tissue, caused by endometriosis, which closes the delicate fimbria, preventing them from transporting the moving sperm and egg and preventing fertilisation
How to diagnose Hydrosalpinx
If you suspect that you are suffering from Hydrosalpinx, there are a few different ways to gain a reliable diagnosis, all of which require an X-ray or camera to view your anatomy.
Ultrasound – An ultrasound diagnoses Hydrosalpinx via a narrow probe inserted into the vagina, which then produces a clear picture of the fallopian tubes.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – HSG is a form of X-ray exam in which dye is injected into the fallopian tubes and uterus. The technician will take an X-ray after the dye disperses into the surrounding organs, at which time any blockages become easy to diagnose.
Laparoscopy – During a laparoscopy, a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen via a small incision inside your navel. This allows the specialist to see your fallopian tubes clearly on a screen and make the appropriate diagnosis.
How to treat Hydrosalpinx
If you have been diagnosed with Hydrosalpinx, there is still hope that you can conceive naturally. In many cases, the blockage can be repaired or cleared via a simple surgical procedure called a neosalpingostomy. This is more suited to patients under the age of 35, and women will have to be monitored closely for ectopic pregnancy.
If your blockage is more severe, you will likely be advised to move directly to IVF. Since your eggs will be harvested from your ovaries, blockages in your fallopian tubes are less of a problem.
However, in some cases, it is recommended that you have the damaged portion of your fallopian tube removed entirely before starting treatment so that it doesn’t cause any problems.
Blocked fallopian tubes don’t have to spell out the end of your fertility.