In order to understand about this particular problem, you must first have a general idea about how the fallopian tubes actually work. The concept is very basic.
There are two thin tubes that are approximately the width of a spaghetti noodle, called the fallopian tubes, and there is one located on either side of the uterus. These tubes, which are also known as oviducts, salpinges (salpinx in the singular form) or simply uterine tubes, are lined with something called, ciliated epithelia and allow the passage of a mature egg, to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. They also serve the purpose of allowing the sperm to swim from the cervix, through the uterus and then into the fallopian tubes, so that they can then reach the egg and begin fertilizing it. The process of fertilization usually happens while the egg itself is actually moving through the tube. If, however, one or both of these tubes become blocked, infertility can then occur.
Here is a list of things that can cause a fallopian tube(s) to become blocked:
This particular form of tubal blockage involves liquid blockage of the tubes, as opposed to some type of physical scarring. The fallopian tube is blocked off at its fimbrial end, (or its fringelike, open, outside part that is in close contact with your ovary and its surface) by becoming filled with a clear, watery-type of liquid. The tube may then swell or become distended, and most often this will happen to both tubes at the same time. This condition can be found by an ultrasonography or during an X-ray procedure that is called a hysterosalpingogram, or (HCG), which is most often performed during an infertility work-up. The most common reason for getting this condition is usually due to pelvic inflammatory disease, (PID), which is most often acquired due to an infection from having a sexually transmitted disease of some kind. Chlamydia or Gonorrhea being the most common.
The most common solutions to this condition in the past was to undergo a surgical procedure called, tubal corrective surgery, or a salpingostomy, which would open up the blocked end of the tubes, and remove any possible adhesions. Unfortunately, this procedure did not necessarily help make it easier or possible for a woman to become pregnant, due to the infection process which had, many times, done permanent damage to the tubes. Another problem is that, even the women who actually managed to become pregnant ended up with only an ectopic pregnancy to show for it, due to all of the complications that came with the condition. The best choice for a woman with this problem today involves the process of IVF or in vitro fertilization. The reason for this is because IVF is able to bypass the need for tubal function, giving a woman a much greater chance of being able to conceive a child.
**Due to several different studies, doctors do recommend that women, who have untreated Hydrosalpinx, consider having it removed before beginning IVF, as women who did not had a much lower rate of conception.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
This condition involves an infection of the reproductive organs, that happens when bacteria goes through the cervix, then into the uterus and the fallopian tubes. This is often caused by a sexually transmitted disease, most often either gonorrhea or chlamydia. PID can cause many problems; however, the problem of blocked fallopian tubes is one of the most common. The tubes usually become blocked due to the adhesions that are caused by swelling and inflammation. The blockages are most commonly found closer to the ovaries than to the uterus, which unfortunately, makes it much more difficult to treat.
Treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease is usually accomplished with antibiotics; however, any damage that may have been done to any of the reproductive organs, especially the fallopian tubes, will need to be addressed separately. The sooner that you realize you may have PID and get treatment for it, the less chance you have of ending up with severe or possibly permanent damage from it. Here are some of the possible symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Fever and chills
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Burning with urination
- Tenderness or a dull pain in the lower abdominal area
It is also possible to have absolutely no symptoms and still have this condition. Aside from a sexually transmitted disease, other ways that you can acquire PID include douching and the use of an intrauterine device.
This is when the inner lining of the uterus, or the endometrium, grows in places outside of your uterus. It most often includes your bowel, the tissue lining your pelvic area or your ovaries. And although the endometrial tissue is displaced, it still continues to behave as it normally would, which means that it thickens, breaks down and then bleeds with every menstrual cycle. But, because the displaced tissue has no way of exiting your body, it then becomes trapped, causing pain, scar tissue and adhesions to form.
Symptoms that can indicate the possible presence of endometriosis include:
- Pelvic pain and cramping that can range from mild to severe and usually accompany your periods
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Heavy or excessive bleeding either in between or during your menstrual cycle
- Pain with urination or during bowel movements (this will most often occur during your periods)
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Bloating or nausea
This is a condition where a fallopian tube is severely blocked and filled with pus. If both tubes are affected with this, it is called, pyosalpinges. This can often be a complication of pelvic inflammatory disease and usually develops in women of reproductive age, somewhere between 15 and 49 years old.
Symptoms can include:
- Vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
This is most often treated with antibiotics, although there are times when, due to trauma, discovering the problem too late or some other cause, the pyosalpinx can actually rupture and spread around the inside of the abdominal cavity, causing risk of further infection and inflammation. It can also form an abscess in the pelvis, very similar to that of a burst appendix, and if this happens to occur, you would then need surgery in order to drain both the abscess, as well as the pyosalpinx.
Congenital Tube Obstruction
This particular condition, also known as primary fallopian tube obstruction, is a case of the fallopian tubes being blocked since birth, as more of a type of birth defect. This unusual and rare problem, most often times will go undetected until such time as a woman attempts to become pregnant, and begins having difficulty.
This is a common problem in women who are dealing with infertility. It is when there is inflammation, as well as infection, inside of the fallopian tubes. There are two types of this condition; they are chronic salpingitis and acute salpingitis. This infection usually begins in the vaginal area, and then makes its way up to the fallopian tubes from there. Due to the infection having the ability to actually spread by way of the lymph vessels, even if the infection is only in one tube, the other fallopian tube is almost always affected as well. The more times a woman contracts this infection, the higher her chances for becoming infertile will be. Having this condition once puts your risk of infertility at an approximate rate of 8-17%, and three times, approximately 40-60%. The amount of risk does, however, depend upon just how severe each of the infections were, and how quickly they were treated. Here are some of the risk factors that put a woman in jeopardy of getting this condition.
- Declining menstrual flow and the cervix opening up during the menstruation process, which then allows the infection to come into contact with the tubes.
- Another risk factor is things that change the microenvironment of both the cervix and the vagina. When this occurs, it allows infecting organisms to increase quite quickly and eventually rise to the fallopian tubes.
These are things such as:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Antibiotic treatments
- Sexual intercourse can also be a factor in helping to spread the disease from the vagina to the fallopian tubes.
These types of factors are:
- Sperm, which can transport the organisms upward
- Uterine contractions
- Different types of surgical procedures that are responsible for breaking the cervical barrier can also be a risk factor.
Some of these would include:
- Endometrial Biopsy
In addition to the fallopian tubes being damaged and preventing the sperm from meeting the egg, there is also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy as well.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms associated with this disease.
- Pain during ovulation
- Pain during the act of sexual intercourse
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Lower back pain
- Abnormal color and/or smell of vaginal discharge
- Pain coming for brief periods of time and then later returning
This condition is almost always treated with antibiotics and the advice of having any sexual partners checked for the disease as well.
Proximal Tube Occlusion
This condition blocks the isthmus part of the fallopian tube and tends to happen after an infection following an abortion, a cesarean section, a missed miscarriage or even after having had a PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) that has already been treated. Proximal Tube Occlusion has also occurred after the use of the supposedly permanent, but non-surgical birth control procedure, Essure, was used.
The non-surgical procedure most often used to help correct this condition is called, Selective Tubal Cannulation. This procedure consists of a catheter being inserted through the cervix, then the uterus and finally, into the fallopian tubes, guided by fluoroscopy or hysteroscopy. This procedure normally has about a 60% rate of success in aiding a woman to become pregnant.
Midsegment Tubal Obstruction
This problem is usually due to having had a tubal ligation and ending up with damage from it. A tubal ligation is a surgical procedure that will keep a woman from having a baby on a permanent basis, by tying and fusing the tubes so that they cannot release eggs to be fertilized. Some women, however, decide to change their minds later and have the procedure reversed. This process, called tubal ligation removal, sometimes causes the addition of more scar tissue on the fallopian tubes than was put there by the original surgery, causing infertility. Ironically, this is also a possible solution to damage created by a tubal ligation.
This condition, which is a common occurrence with some of the other problems listed here, can also cause blockage or damage to the fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal type of pregnancy where the embryo or fertilized egg, implants itself not in the uterus, but outside of it, most often in one of the fallopian tubes. Not only is an ectopic pregnancy dangerous and life threatening, it can also cause infertility. This usually happens if an ectopic pregnancy is not recognized and treated soon enough, which could cause the embryo to grow inside of the tube until it finally ruptures. If this happens, the fallopian tube can become damaged permanently or may even have to be removed.
Some symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:
- Nausea and vomiting accompanied by pain
- Pain located on one side of your body
- Fainting (but usually only if the tube ruptures and causes severe pain and bleeding)
- Light vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness or weakness
- Sharp cramps in the abdominal area
- Pain in your neck, shoulder or rectum
- Lower abdominal pain
Though this does not commonly cause infertility, it has been known to in some cases. This usually happens if a woman’s appendix ruptures, causing inflammation, as well as the possibility of the fallopian tubes becoming blocked or kinked by scar tissue.
The treatment most often used to correct this problem is to have the tubes restored laparoscopically. If, however, the damage is too great to be repaired, IVF is usually performed instead.
In addition to the treatments already suggested, here are some other choices that could possibly help to unblock or repair damaged or blocked fallopian tube(s).
They include the following:
- Salpingostomy: This creates a brand new opening for a blocked tube in the entrance near the ovary.
- Fimbrioplasty: This procedure helps to correct the fimbriae (a fringe of tissue at the opening side toward the ovary of the fallopian tubes) when it is stuck together with its cilia by scar tissue.
- Salpingectomy: This procedure is, quite simply, the removal of part of a fallopian tube.
- Laparoscopic Surgery: This can remove scar tissue, as well as open up blocked tubes.
There are risks to attempting to have a blocked or damaged fallopian tube repaired surgically and they are:
- The regrowth of scar tissue and/or adhesions
- The risk for pelvic infection due to the opening of the abdomen
- A very large risk for an ectopic pregnancy
If you do not wish to take the risk of trying to correct your problem surgically, there are a number of natural therapies available that can produce wonderful results, without the chance of infection or scar tissue. These include the following:
- Fertility Cleansing: This assists in cleansing the entire reproductive system, while also increasing circulation to all of the reproductive organs at the same time.
- Castor Oil Therapy: This is a cloth that is soaked in castor oil (a castor oil pack) and then put onto the skin to help improve circulation, as well as promote healing of the organs and the tissues that are positioned under the skin. These packs will bring about the lymphatic system, which is vital, as the lymphatic system is responsible for the removal of old and diseased tissues and cells, and the removal of metabolic waste. Castor oil is one of the few ways there are, to actually trigger the lymphatic system to move.
- Systemic Enzyme Therapy: This therapy uses systemic enzymes that are naturally found in the body, to help reduce the buildup of scar tissue, help take away occasional pain and reduce inflammation.
- Herbal Therapies: These therapies do one or more of 4 key things, inflammation reduction, work to support hormonal balance, reduce infection or promote healthy circulation.
- Ginger Root
- Uva Ursi
- Dong Quai
- Peony Root
- Wild Yam