Q/ What causes blocked fallopian tubes in women?
The fallopian tube is an essential component of the normal reproductive process. The fallopian tubes capture the egg after ovulation and transports the sperm from the uterus to the fertilisation site in the ampulla (the middle portion of the tube). The ampulla serves as the physiologic site for final gamete maturation, fertilisation and early embryonic development. Fallopian tube blockage leads to failure of a woman to conceive because the sperm
and the egg have no way to meet. Infertility due to fallopian tube blockage contributes to between 25 and 30 per cent of all cases of infertility case in women. The causes of fallopian tube blockage include:
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); this disease can cause scarring and blockage of the tubes. Hadrosalpinx (accumulation of fluid in the tubes resulting from dilatation of the tubes). Infections such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the leading causes of PID.
Endometriosis: Endometrial tissue can build up in the fallopian tubes and cause a blockage. Endometrial tissue
on the outside of other organs can cause adhesions that block the fallopian tubes.
Past ectopic pregnancy can cause scarring and blockage of fallopian tubes.
Fibroids; these growths can block the fallopian tube, particularly where they attach to the uterus.
Past abdominal surgery; past surgery, especially on the fallopian tubes themselves, can lead to pelvic adhesions that block the tubes.
How can they be treated/opened?
yTreatment of fallopian tube blockage depends on the severity and location
of the blockage. In minor forms of tubal blockage, the doctor may recommend surgery which may either be open abdominal surgery or laparoscopic surgery (key hole abdominal surgery). Here the tubes are inspected thoroughly and correction is performed in case of a correctable abnormality.
yOtherwise most cases of fallopian tube blockage need in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Compiled by Drs Joseph Kafuuma and Nakiyingi Elizabeth of Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre. Send questions to the Dr via firstname.lastname@example.org