How do I know if my tubes are blocked?
Tubal blockage is one of the most common causes of infertility. The fallopian tubes are not merely “pipes”; they are highly complex structures that pick up the ovulated egg and help move it towards the uterus. Normal fertilization occurs in the tube. Damage to the tubes is often caused by a previous pelvic infection.
The most common culprit is a microorganism known as Chlamydia, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and which often causes no symptoms in women until they find they are infertile. Other causes of PID include an organism known as Gonococcus and other diverse organisms that gain entry and grow in the female reproductive tract following miscarriage, abortion and delivery.
Other causes of tubal damage are endometriosis, and previous abdominal surgery, especially due to a ruptured appendix or a ruptured ovarian cyst. A history of ectopic pregnancy often indicates prior tubal damage due to infection. Tubal occlusion can be diagnosed by laparoscopy if dye is seen passing through the tubes. A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a less invasive method of documenting the status of the tubes, in which a small amount of dye is injected through the vagina and an x-ray shows the dye spilling into the pelvis. However, even if the tubes are patent, with a history of previous infection there is likely to be damage within the tube that destroys its normal functions. A diagnosis of tubal disease is best treated by IVF. While it is possible to open the fallopian tubes with tubal corrective surgery, doing so may in fact make the situation worse, by resulting in a patent, yet damaged tube(s) and thus leave the person at high risk for ectopic pregnancy. Therefore, it is often best to either resect these damaged tubes, or do a tubal occlusion procedure via laparoscopy and cauterize the tubes adjacent to the uterus.