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What are the Fallopian tubes?

  • The part of the female reproductive system responsible for carrying the egg from the ovary to the uterus
  • Site of fertilization – once the egg is fertilized by the sperm, it travels along the tube until it reaches the uterus to implant

What does it mean for the Fallopian tubes to be "blocked" and how is it diagnosed?

  • Scar tissue, infection, pelvic adhesions, and/or other factors can cause an obstruction in one or both Fallopian tubes, which may:
    • Prevent the egg and sperm from uniting (fertilization)
    • Inhibit a fertilized egg from reaching the uterus
  • Tubal blockage may occur because of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), fibroids, previous ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus), and/or abdominal surgery
  • A blocked Fallopian tube can be assessed by a Hysterosalpingography (HSG), which is a radiologic procedure to assess the tubes

What are the symptoms/effects of a blocked Fallopian tube?

  • Most women do not have display any symptoms but may find it difficult to get pregnant
  • Tubal blockage can cause infertility
    • If only one tube is blocked, an egg may still be fertilized through the other tube. However, only one egg is produced per month, which may still be released from the ovary connected to the blocked tube
  • If both tubes are blocked, fertilization of the egg is unlikely to occur
    • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
      • A fertilized egg may become trapped in the blocked Fallopian tube and implant outside of the uterus

How can blocked Fallopian tubes be treated?

  • Laparoscopic surgery can be performed to remove the blockage, although this may not be possible in severe cases
  • If one tube is open, medication can be taken to increase the amount of mature eggs released per month, increasing the chances of an egg flowing through the open tube
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) can be used to bypass the blocked tube, retrieve the egg directly from the ovary, and fertilize it outside of the body
    • Once fertilized, the embryo can be placed directly inside the uterus

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