Blocked fallopian tubes

Do you need more information about your fertility and the factors which might be stopping you from conceiving? At our free Fertility Seminars you can hear from a Specialist, ask questions and see the clinic for yourself. Or if you are ready to see a Specialist, check out how to get started through our four Simple steps.

One physical factor which could be stopping you from getting pregnant is a blockage in one or both of your fallopian tubes. About 20 per cent of female infertility is related to blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. Your fallopian tubes can be blocked for a number of reasons:

  • blocked from birth (congenital tubal obstruction);
  • intentional tying or clipping (to prevent pregnancy);
  • accidental damage following other surgery e.g. colectomy;
  • severe endometriosis; or
  • inflammation (salpingitis).

The last of these reasons - inflammation - is the most common one we see. The inflammation can happen inside your fallopian tubes - usually the case with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia - or outside your tubes because of an infection from another organ such as the appendix.

The tubes get blocked due to damage from adhesions - where two damaged surfaces actually join together. Adhesions can also occur after pelvic surgery or as a result of endometriosis and they can impact your fertility in a number of ways - by separating the ovary and tube with new tissue or by blocking the outer end of the tube. In many cases, we can clear the blockage with microsurgery or by inserting fine catheters into the tubes.

Hydrosalpinx and pyosalpinx

These two types of blockages involve liquid rather than physical scarring.

  1. A hydrosalpinx is a particular type of tubal blockage in which your tube is obstructed near its fimbrial end - the open, outside end of your fallopian tube which is in contact with the surface of your ovary. With hydrosalpinx, your tube becomes filled with clear watery fluid. Sometimes after IVF, the rise in progesterone causes the tube to relax and this fluid can be passed into the uterus, washing out the transferred embryo. This process is commonly the cause of persistent IVF failure.
  2. A pyosalpinx is an acutely inflamed blocked tube filled with pus. Sometimes it can be treated with antibiotics but pyosalpinx can also rupture and form an abscess in the pelvis, much like a burst appendix. If this happens then you will need an operation to drain both it and the abscess.

We agree researching the factors which might be stopping you from getting pregnant is an important way to try to figure out why it’s not working. Coming in to see our Fertility GP is also a good place to start if you’re not convinced you need to see one of our Fertility Specialists but still need some answers.

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