NOTE: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace medical advice. Please see your doctor if you suspect your fallopian tubes may be blocked or that you have another medical issue.
Fallopian tube obstruction – or blocked fallopian tubes – account for some 20% of all female infertility issues, according to experts.
Unfortunately, because fallopian tube obstruction generally can’t be felt, you may never know you have this condition.
What causes blocked fallopian tubes, and what can you do to make your fallopian tubes healthier? Here are your options.
Types of Fallopian Tube Obstruction
The fallopian tubes are thin structures that lead outward and down from the uterus, toward the ovaries. When an egg is fertilized, it must travel through the fallopian tubes to the uterus in order to implant and begin pregnancy.
There are three major types of fallopian tube obstruction. These are:
- Proximal tubal occlusion. This occurs in the isthmus, the very narrow area that joins the fallopian tube to the uterus. It is often caused by infection, including pelvic inflammatory disease, which can swell and possibly scar the area.
- Midsegement tubal obstruction. When an obstruction appears in the middle length of the fallopian tube, it is called a midsegment tubal obstruction. It often consists of scar tissue from surgeries such as a reversed tubal ligation (having your “tubes tied”).
- Distal tubal occlusion. This area is where the fallopian tube widens, sitting near the ovary. A major cause of this type of obstruction is damage due to the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.
Although each of the three issues is related to certain disorders or infections, sometimes, no cause is found. Doctors agree that there is no one cause of fallopian tube obstruction but that due to the narrowness of the fallopian tubes, any obstruction can lead to infertility.
Diagnosing Fallopian Tube Obstruction
To diagnose fallopian tube obstruction, a medical professional will typically use one of the following procedures:
- Sonohysterography: This non-invasive procedure involves an ultrasound of the reproductive organs to see if any blockages or other abnormalities can be detected.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): For this procedure, a thin tube is placed through the vagina into the uterus. A dye is injected through the tubes. The dye flushes into the fallopian tubes. X-rays are then taken to highlight the dye and find out whether there is an obstruction.
- Chromotubation: Similar to an HSG, chromotubation involves injecting a dye into the reproductive organs. However, the dye is injected directly into the fallopian tubes via laparoscopy (a thin incision in the abdomen).
Medical Procedures for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Particularly in the case of scarring, doctors generally recommend surgical procedures for removing fallopian tube blockage. One of the following may be recommended:
- Selective tubal cannulation: This procedure has a 60% success rate in unblocking fallopian tubes and/or removing obstructions. It is most often used for proximal tubal occlusion (a blockage near where the uterus and fallopian tube meet). A thin tube called a cannula is inserted through the vagina and uterus and up into the tube to physically unblock the area.
- Salpingostomy. In this procedure, a new opening is created near the end of the fallopian tube nearest the ovary so that sperm can pass through into the tube. It generally has a temporary success rate (about 3-6 months).
- Fimbrioplasty: if the fimbriae (located at the end of the tube nearest the ovary) are damaged, they may be unable to “wave” the ovum (egg) toward the tube or the ovum may be unable to pass through them into the tube. Fimbrioplasty involves physically restructuring the fimbriae so they are open and mobile again. This type of surgery is very rare, requiring a specialist in the procedure itself.
Other options, such as tubal ligation reversal, may apply to certain patients. There are risks to any surgery, including scarring and infection. Ask your doctor about the risks before agreeing to any surgical procedure.
Are There Natural Alternatives?
Recently, new information has enabled some women to improve their fallopian tube health in a more natural way. Although these methods may not unblock fallopian tubes, they could have other positive effects on the area, which allow for healing and less swelling of the area.
Fertility Enzyme Therapy
Natural enzymes help reduce inflammation, create better circulation in the body and help heal and clear away minor scarring. This has lead to the discovery of a fascinating new method known as fertility enzyme therapy. For this treatment, enzymes are ingested. These may include:
- bromealin (from pineapple) (anti-inflammatory; also breaks down proteins)
- papain (from papaya) (anti-inflammatory)
- chymotrypsin (anti-fibroid)
- trypsin (breaks down proteins and may help prevent blood clots)
- rutin (anti-inflammatory)
This page has fascinating and very complete information on fertility enzyme therapy.
Massage of the abdominal area increases circulation and may break up blockages and scarring. Look for a fertility massage therapist in your area, or you can try this method yourself (here is a very complete tutorial).
Certain herbs can decrease inflammation, increase circulation and balance the hormones. Here are a few:
- dong quai root (decreases congestion in the area; improves circulation)
- ginger root (increases blood circulation)
- wild yam (helps balance hormones, particularly progesterone)
- hawthorne (improves integrity of blood vessel walls)
- peony root (helps balance progesterone and estrogen)
Experts are learning more about the causes of blocked fallopian tubes – and new methods to treat them – all the time. Always research any procedure thoroughly (whether surgical, non-invasive and/or all-natural) before proceeding. Good luck and good fertility to you.