Are My Tubes Blocked?
Starting a family is a big life goal for some women. The thing is, women need excellent reproductive health for pregnancy to happen naturally. So for those with pregnancy challenges, check with a doctor immediately. Blocked fallopian tubes could be a cause of infertility. However, a doctor can’t tell if the tubes are blocked with a physical test. To be sure, the doctor will perform a hysterosalpingogram (HSG).
The critical role of the fallopian tubes
Fallopian tubes are 2 muscular tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. During ovulation, the ovary releases 1 egg that travels down the fallopian tube. During this trip, the sperm travels up the tube to fertilize the egg. The fertilized egg continues the journey through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. Women will struggle to get pregnant with blocked fallopian tubes.
Understanding blocked fallopian tubes
Blocked fallopian tubes often show no symptoms. Some women may feel pain on one side. Since the ovaries release eggs randomly, pregnancy can happen with 1 blocked tube. Infertility and ectopic pregnancies can happen with 2 blocked tubes. About 19-29% of infertile women have blocked fallopian tubes.
Why a hysterosalpingogram is important
An OB/GYN can’t confirm blocked fallopian tubes with the naked eye or a physical test. A hysterosalpingogram or HSG can help. A hysterosalpingogram sounds wordy and confusing. But the test is a type of x-ray that simply tells the doctor if the fallopian tubes are blocked. An HSG is quick, safe, and almost painless.
A test to dye for
Using an x-ray called a fluoroscope, an OB/GYN gets a better view of the ovary, uterus, and fallopian tubes. If there are no visible issues, the doctor then injects a dye containing iodine into the uterus. The doctor will see a contrast between the dye and x-ray. If the color does not flow freely into the fallopian tubes, there could be a blockage.
Infections can block those tubes
Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is a common cause of blocked fallopian tubes. This is an infection of the reproductive organs. The infection starts in the vagina and moves to the reproductive organs. Women with sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia can also develop PID. This infection can scar and damage the fallopian tubes.
Could fibroids be at play?
Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in and around the uterus. These growths can multiply quickly and can even grow to the size of a large ball. Fibroids can spread to the fallopian tubes or develop in such a way to block the tubes altogether. The condition affects about 68% of women and is one of the more common causes of tubal blockage.
Blocked by unwanted cells
Endometriosis is another condition that can potentially block tubes. With endometriosis, the cells that make up the endometrium move to other parts of the body. These cells mainly move to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other parts of the uterus. However, endometrium cells can migrate to the intestine and even the lungs and heart. The cells stick around and multiply. So if the cells get into the fallopian tubes, a mass can form, preventing pregnancy.
Dealing with physical damage
Finally, injury or past surgery can damage fallopian tubes. For example, surgery on the appendix or the fallopian tubes can leave a scar. This prevents the egg from safely transporting the fertilized egg to the uterus.
Don’t get blocked from getting pregnant
Only a healthcare provider can assess and diagnose blocked tubes. For women trying to get pregnant for several months without success, speak with a doctor. A doctor will perform a hysterosalpingogram to confirm any blockages. In some cases, an HSG can even improve fertility, known as tubal flushing. With blocked tubes, all hope is not lost. Get checked right away. Then work with a doctor to explore pregnancy options.