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Blocked Fallopian Tubes

Question

How do blocked fallopian tubes prevent conception, and what's the treatment?

Answer

Conception occurs when a sperm from a man fertilizes an egg from a woman. This fertilization occurs in the woman's fallopian tubes, not in her vagina or uterus. If the fallopian tubes are blocked and the egg released from your ovaries can't pass through the blockage, the egg and the sperm can't meet to allow fertilization to occur. Fallopian tube blockage is usually caused by scar tissue (which could be from pelvic infections or endometriosis) or by collection of fluid in the tubes (called hydrosalpinx).

The first step should be to consult an infertility specialist. Tests such as the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) -- in which a dye is injected into the fallopian tubes -- allow the specialist to see the path of the tubes, identifying a blockage if one exists. While this procedure isn't harmful, it can cause painful cramping for a short time.

Another way to see if the tubes are blocked is by laparoscopy. In this procedure a specialist inserts a tiny scope into a small incision near the woman's navel. During this surgery the doctor injects dye into the uterus. If the dye spills out the ends of the fallopian tubes, there's most likely not a blockage.

Treatment for fallopian tube blockage includes laparoscopy as mentioned above. In this procedure the doctor can cut away scar tissue from around the tube or even make a new opening at the end of the tube. The key to maximizing your chances of success with this type of surgery is to obtain a referral for a specialist who is skilled in tubal surgery. Ask your gynecologist for a referral and check with your state medical licensing board for the names of qualified specialists in your area.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.