Hearing that you have blocked Fallopian tubes can feel scary. What does it mean? Will you still be able to get pregnant?
Getting pregnant can be tough no matter what, but it can be even more challenging for those dealing with blocked Fallopian tubes to get that positive test.
Essentially, Fallopian tubes must be open, have no swelling, and be free of scar tissue to function correctly. With at least one fallopian tube in a healthy condition, having a natural or IUI-assisted pregnancy is possible. On the other hand, if both tubes are experiencing problems, getting pregnant is more difficult.
Yet, several procedures can mitigate the issue and help you achieve your dream family.
Here's what you need to know about blocked Fallopian tubes, what causes blocked Fallopian tubes, and how to increase your chances of starting a family even when experiencing this condition:
The Role of Fallopian Tubes in Pregnancy
Fallopian tubes are narrow ducts that lead from the ovaries to the uterus in the female reproductive system. Measuring at half an inch in diameter at most, these tubes play an essential role in the process of conception.
During ovulation, an egg exits an ovary and travels down the Fallopian tube. Along the way, it may encounter sperm. Fertilization sometimes takes place within one of the Fallopian tubes. Then, the egg continues down its path to the uterus, where the fertilized egg can implant and grow.
If one or more Fallopian tubes are blocked, it can prevent the egg from coming down into the uterus and stop the sperm from reaching the egg.
What Causes Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
Blockages can occur in the Fallopian tubes for several reasons and are a common occurrence. Between 19% and 29% of women with infertility have tubal obstructions. The most common cause is of blocked Fallopian tubes is a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Typically the result of a sexually transmitted disease, PID is a bacterial infection of the reproductive organs that affects the uterus and Fallopian tubes. The infection may lead to pelvic pain, abscess growth, scarring from adhesions, and may even cause an ectopic pregnancy if left untreated.
Additional causes of blocked Fallopian tubes include an ongoing or past experience, such as:
- Uterine infections
- STD infections
- Abdominal or pelvic surgeries
While fibroids don’t always affect fertility, they can grow in such a way that they block one or both of the Fallopian tubes. Endometriosis, which is the growth of the endometrium in locations outside the uterus, can cause tissue to grow within the Fallopian tubes, essentially blocking them off.
Scar tissue from past surgeries and miscarriages or inflammation caused by infections are other reasons for blocked Fallopian tubes.
Symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Many women don’t experience any symptoms that would indicate their blocked Fallopian tubes. However, some conditions that cause blocked fallopian tubes may give you symptoms such as abdominal pain similar to menstrual cramps, pain during sexual intercourse, or a fever. Another symptom that may indicate that you have blocked Fallopian tubes is infertility. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without any luck, then see a fertility doctor for an assessment.
How Do You Test for Fallopian Tube Blockages?
There are several ways to test for Fallopian tube blockages that are relatively routine without too much recovery time afterward.
Three minimally invasive procedures that check for tubal swelling or obstructions are hysterosonograms (HSN), hysterosalpingograms (HSG), and laparoscopy with chromotubation of the tubes.
An HSN is a type of high-resolution ultrasound used with a saline solution rather than dyes and x-rays.
The process is less demanding on the body and offers a clear visual representation of the uterus, allowing a specialist to see any abnormalities within it. However, gaining a thorough look into the Fallopian tubes is somewhat limited.
An HSG provides a more in-depth look into the Fallopian tubes by using an iodine liquid filled into the uterus, which is contrasted by an x-ray that shows you how the liquid moves throughout your reproductive system.
This process is fairly quick altogether, typically taking less than 10 minutes, and patients can return home shortly after. With that in mind, it has been known to cause cramping and could be a secondary course of action for those who need further review of their Fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopy with Chromotubation
Being the most demanding procedure of the three, a laparoscopy with chromotubation is an inpatient procedure carried out with general anesthesia.
Two incisions are made, one for a fine telescope (laparoscope) to be inserted into the abdomen and another in the pubic region for a small probe to provide an obstructed view of the reproductive organs. Once everything is in place, the chromotubation process (dye test) begins, filling the womb with a light-blue liquid. If the Fallopian tubes are open, then the dye will spill from the ends into the pelvis area, but if nothing comes out, then a blockage is usually the issue.
After this procedure, it takes approximately one week to recover.
Can Fallopian Tube Blockages Be Removed?
Similar to laparoscopy with chromotubation, blockages within the Fallopian tubes can be temporarily fixed with a process called tubal cannulation.
What is Tubal Cannulation?
Tubal cannulation uses two types of surgical procedures called hysteroscopy and laparoscopy.
A narrow tube outfitted with a camera and light source is inserted into the womb through a small incision of the abdomen. Next, a thin wire (cannula) is guided through the Fallopian tube, creating an opening and clearing blockages. Once complete, a dye is sent through the womb to see if it can pass through the Fallopian tubes without being deterred. If it flows freely, the surgery is a success.
According to research from Saint Mary's Hospital in the UK, 75% of women who undergo tubal cannulation are successful in getting pregnant between 22% and 33% of the time. However, a downside to the procedure is that Fallopian tubes cannot be reopened permanently and may reclose at a later date. Thus, while there isn't a guarantee, it does help improve the chances of getting pregnant after unblocking fallopian tubs.
Blocked Fallopian Tube Surgery
Depending on what causes blocked Fallopian tubes, there are helpful surgical procedures that can correct the problem or help achieve pregnancy.
One of these procedures is salpingostomy. This procedure is used when the tube is blocked by a fluid build-up known as hydrosalpinx. During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small hole in the tube in the area close to the ovary. Then, the fluid drains, potentially allowing the tube to become functional again. One risk is that scar tissue may form after the surgery, reblocking the Fallopian tube.
A similar procedure called a salpingectomy may be used to simply remove the blocked Fallopian tube. This can increase the rate of success of IVF.
Fimbrioplasty is another standard surgical procedure that may be done alongside a salpingostomy. In this blocked Fallopian tube surgery, the surgeon will not only eliminate a blockage but also rebuild the fimbriae. The fimbriae are tiny finger-like projections that help pick up the egg from the ovary and push it into the Fallopian tube.
Can I Still Get Pregnant with Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
Yes, you can get pregnant naturally or with the assistance of an IUI with one Fallopian tube open. However, if both tubes are blocked, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be required.
How Does an IVF Bypass Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) works around blocked Fallopian tubes by developing the embryo outside of the body in a controlled laboratory setting and transferring it to the uterus through a small insemination catheter. Over time, the embryo grows naturally in the same fashion as a traditional pregnancy without relying on the Fallopian tubes to function.
With that in mind, a condition known as hydrosalpinx (swollen tubes) can affect the outcome of an IVF, leading to a 50% reduction of its success. That said, salpingostomy, as mentioned earlier, can help increase the chances of success.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes IVF Success Stories
With a knowledgeable team on your side, you can achieve a pregnancy, even if both Fallopian tubes are blocked, and you require IVF.
Here’s a blocked Fallopian tubes IVF success story from one of our patients:
“Kofinas Fertility is an amazing Fertility Group that is made up of an amazing team. Dr Jason Kofinas was amazing. He is a knowledgeable doctor who provided us with the best course of treatment for our issues, he is professional, compassionate, a good communicator and a great doctor. He listened to our concerns and provided us with his treatment plans each and every step of the way. Made us feel involved in our treatment and made sure we understood what we were undergoing."
"During such a stressful time, they provided me with support and information and gave me hope that I will achieve the baby I always dreamed of. They never made me feel rushed or pressured and always gave me the opportunity to ask questions and communicate my each and every concern."
"Dr. Jason Kofinas had a plan to slowly stimulate the ovaries and slowly grow the follicles so that to achieve as many mature follicles as possible without overstimulation. He also suggested that we don’t transfer more than one embryo at a time to aim at a single healthy pregnancy. He was definitely right about that since we ended up with a very healthy baby boy.”
Curious to hear more success stories from women with blocked Fallopian tubes? Check out our reviews.
Can I Get Pregnant With Only One Fallopian Tube?
The short answer is yes, absolutely!
Some common reasons you have only one Fallopian tube are:
- Your other tube is blocked
- The other tube has been removed due to a blockage or ectopic pregnancy
- The other tube has been damaged due to endometriosis
- You were simply born without a second Fallopian tube
If your other tube is healthy and functional and you get a regular menstrual cycle, it’s likely you’ll be able to get pregnant with only one Fallopian tube.
For women who have had one Fallopian tube removed, an interesting and surprising phenomenon can also occur. The remaining Fallopian tube can migrate between the ovaries to pick up the egg that’s ovulating.
Tips For Getting Pregnant With Only One Fallopian Tube
If you have only one Fallopian tube, you can follow general best practices to try to conceive. In some cases, getting pregnant naturally can be a challenge.
If you’re struggling to conceive, you may benefit from seeing a fertility doctor who can evaluate your situation. There are many treatments that can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.
Best Fertility Treatments For Those With One Fallopian Tube
Fertility treatments range from low complexity therapies to more involved treatments like IVF. The best fertility treatment for you will depend on any other fertility difficulties that you’re experiencing.
For example, women who ovulate irregularly may benefit from medications that stimulate ovulation. Or, if one of your Fallopian tubes is blocked due to endometriosis, surgery may be required to remove the endometrial tissue. After an evaluation, your doctor will be able to recommend the best fertility treatments for you.
Kofinas Fertility Group is Here to Treat Blocked Fallopian Tubes
At Kofinas Fertility Group, your health and fertility are our top priorities. Any challenges you may have with blocked Fallopian tubes will be fully assessed to ensure the right course of action that leads to you having the family of your dreams.
To learn more about Kofinas Fertility Group or ask any questions you may have, contact us or request an appointment today.