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Blocked Fallopian Tubes
on Dec 16, 2012
by Dr. Karen Leham, MD
Blocked fallopian tubes is one of the most common causes of infertility among women. There is treatment available, and your chances of pregnancy rise after surgical treatment.
Blocked fallopian tubes is one of the most common causes of infertility among women. Blocked fallopian tubes prevent the egg and sperm from reaching one another, therefore preventing fertilization. Blockage of the fallopian tubes is caused by a build-up of scar tissue both in and outside of the tube and the leading cause of scar tissue is infection.
Infections often responsible for blockage includes infections resulting from a ruptured appendix, inflammatory bowel disease, gallbladder disease, and the last and most common, Pelvic inflammatory disease. Pelvic Inflammatory disease or PID, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is most commonly a result from bacterial STD’s such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Blocked Fallopian tubes is the cause of infertility in 40% of infertile women, and it rarely causes any symptoms or warning signs.
Diagnosis of blocked fallopian tubes most commonly requires a test called a hysterosalpingogram or HSG. This procedure is an outpatient procedure where dye is injected through the cervix and then x-rays are performed to determine if the tubes are blocked. Unfortunately, this common procedure yields a “false positive” 15% of the time, meaning that the test may reflect blockage where there is actually none. This can lead to repeat testing or different procedures altogether to determine if the tubes are in fact blocked or not.
If the testing does reveal that a woman’s tubes are blocked, there are surgeries that can be performed to fix it. However sometimes this may require a partial removal of the tube. If too much of the tube is removed, then it is best to simply move on to IVF. Also, the location of the blockage is determining factor in success after the surgery. Studies show that if the blockage is located in the part of the fallopian tube closest to the uterus, that this specific location of the blockage yields the best results after correction.
Up to 60% of women can achieve pregnancy after surgery with this blockage, which is known as “Proximal Occlusion“. If a surgery is performed to reverse blocked fallopian tubes, and a woman does not conceive after 12-18 months post-surgery then IVF is considered the next step. IUI’s must be skipped altogether because in-uterine insemination does not bypass the fallopian tubes, it merely places sperm exactly where it needs to be, and is still dependent on the egg’s ability to travel down the fallopian tubes.
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Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstretics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.