Hydrosalpinx, or blocked fallopian tubes, is a disorder of the female reproductive system, which arises when an unfertilized egg or growth of an abnormal tissue obstructs the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are a pair of oviducts, located on either side of the uterus and attached to the ovaries. Also known as the salpinges and uterine tubes, these ducts perform the vital role of carrying the matured egg (or ovum) from the ovaries to the uterus for fertilization. The significance of the fallopian tubes lies in the processes of ovulation and conception. Owing to infections and abnormalities, the fallopian tubes can get affected and their function be marred. One such disorder is noticing blockage in the fallopian tubes, which may caused due to a number of factors, some of them being severe in nature.
Causes of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
As mentioned earlier, a blockage or obstruction in the fallopian tubes can arise due to abnormal tissue growth or when an unfertilized egg lodges itself in either of the fallopian tubes. A few other causes of fallopian tube blockage are listed as under:
Appendicitis is a condition where there is an inflammation in the appendix, or the last part of the large intestine. In case the inflammation becomes severe, it can cause the appendix to rupture and infect the nearby organs. The bacteria may affect the fallopian tubes and result in the scarring and blockage of the oviducts.
An ectopic pregnancy may take place outside the uterus, especially in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg fails to move towards the uterus and instead gets implanted in the fallopian tube itself. As the result, the developing embryo can cause the duct to rupture and may also lead to infertility.
When the uterine lining, also known as the endometrium, grows outside the uterus on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the pelvic floor. The endometrial tissue becomes thick, ruptures which can result in bleeding. Since there is no outlet for the displaced tissue, it gets accumulated inside the body itself. This condition is called endometriosis and can cause the formation of the scar tissue, which in turn can be one of the reasons for blocked fallopian tubes.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Inflammation of the pelvis can turn into fallopian tube infection, which may arise due to the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc. This infection, also called salpingitis, may also spread to the uterus and the ovaries. This disorder is also referred to as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
An infestation of fungus or bacteria on the peritoneum, or the membrane in the inner wall of the abdomen, can cause an infection called peritonitis. It also causes buildup of fluid and inflammation in the organs within the abdominal region. It also causes the formation of scar tissue, due to infection and bleeding, which blocks the fallopian tubes and other organs.
Tubal Ligation Procedure
A tubal ligation procedure is a method of sterilization or birth control, where the fallopian tubes are 'tied' or blocked, discouraging the transportation of egg to the womb. It also interrupts the journey of the sperm to the fallopian tubes. Though an effective method of birth control, there are several risks associated with it and one of them is rupture of the blood vessels, resulting in internal bleeding and scarring.
Symptoms of Obstructed Fallopian Tubes
Blocked fallopian tubes can exhibit symptoms which can be vague and are not easily identifiable. In some cases, the symptoms are not very salient and women may be hardly aware of the presence of this disorder. Here are some of the indications, that should be reported to a gynecologist as soon as possible.
- Irregularity in the menstrual cycle, accompanied by unbearable pain during the cycle. Some women may also experience discharge of blood clots.
- Fallopian tube pain, which may radiate towards the pelvic floor and abdominal region is also observed in women who have blocked fallopian tubes.
- A general discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse may also be felt. Sometimes, abnormal vaginal discharge (usually smelly) and spotting between periods is also noticed.
- Anovulation, a condition in which the matured egg is not released by the ovaries, as observed during an exam, is also one of the hints that the fallopian tubes are blocked.
- Some other general signs of blockage in the fallopian tubes are bodily weakness, nausea induced vomiting, high grade fever, accompanied by intense headache, frequent urination, lower back pain, etc.
Treating Fallopian Tube Blockage
Now that you are aware of the causative factors for blocked fallopian tubes, it is essential to get this condition treated as soon as possible, to avoid any further complications. Before treating the blocked fallopian tubes, the doctor may perform some diagnostic tests like an ultrasound, exploratory laparoscopic surgery and Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). Surgery may be opted in order to treat infertility.
A procedure which removes the scarred tissues and reconstructs the fringes at the end of the fallopian tubes is known as fimbrioplasty. This is carried out in the area nearest to the ovary, which may have a scarred tissue or has a blockage.
This treatment method is carried out for the surgical removal of the fallopian tubes, which have been infected during tubal ligation. It also helps in improving the effectiveness of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
This treatment option is used when the fallopian tubes are completely blocked and a new opening has to be created for the outlet of the ova. This method of treatment is used when the ducts are affected because of hydrosalpinx, or fluid buildup in the fallopian tubes.
Selective Tubal Cannulation
A cannula or catheter is inserted through the vagina into either of the fallopian tubes to unblock them. The area close to the uterine wall, which may be blocked, are treated using this method.
This is a surgical procedure, which is carried out through an incision in the abdominal region. In this process, the blocked and damaged part of the fallopian tubes are removed and the healthy portions are reconnected.
Taking proper precautions and going for a routine checkup to a gynecologist often proves to be productive in identifying this disorder in the initial stages and treating it before it turns severe. Stay healthy!