Millions of women suffer from blocked fallopian tubes, and the condition is one of the most common causes of infertility. Fallopian tubes can be blocked because of scarring caused by injury or infection, but the underlying cause of the condition is sometimes unknown. Although common, blocked fallopian tubes are rarely a cause for serious concern. Because blocked fallopian tubes are often asymptomatic or present only with very mild symptoms, the condition is underdiagnosed, however it is a leading cause of infertility.
Infertility Caused by a Blocked Fallopian Tube
Women who are not trying to conceive may be completely unaware of their blocked fallopian tubes, since infertility is often the only symptom. Since a blockage in the fallopian tubes can prevent sperm and eggs from traveling freely, they may be unable to join and create a zygote.
Women with one occluded fallopian tube may have difficulty conceiving, but if the other tube is fully functional, the patient may never experience noticeable infertility. However, women with two affected fallopian tubes may find it nearly impossible to conceive without treatment or in vitro fertilization.
Mild Pelvic Pain Caused by a Blocked Fallopian Tube
Because of the pressure that scar tissue places on the area surrounding a fallopian tube, some women experience mild, constant abdominal pain as a result of a blocked fallopian tube. Though the symptoms are relatively uncommon, it usually presents with mild, constant, nagging pain in the lower abdomen, possibly on only one side.
Abdominal pain can also be caused by unrelated conditions, and it is not always (or even often) associated with blocked fallopian tubes. Still, the condition could be considered as a possibility for women who experience constant abdominal pain along with infertility or other symptoms of a blocked tube.
Severe Pelvic Pain Caused by a Blocked Fallopian Tube
Very rarely, women with blocked fallopian tubes may feel intermittent episodes of severe, recurrent pain, which sometimes occurs on only one side of the lower abdomen. This sharp pain sometimes occurs only during menstruation or ovulation, because of the effects of hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Recurrent, severe pain can be caused by many other factors and conditions, such as menstrual cramping, endometriosis, gastrointestinal disturbances and pelvic infection. Since severe pain is only rarely caused by blocked fallopian tubes, other potential causes should be considered.
Risk Factors for a Blocked Fallopian Tube
Women with certain risk factors are especially likely to experience blocked fallopian tubes, and a medical history that includes related conditions can indicate that the patient is likely to experience blocked fallopian tubes. The most common cause of blocked fallopian tubes is scarring from a previous pelvic infection. Women who have had chlamydia or gonorrhea are at risk of having blocked fallopian tubes. Additionally, injuries caused by past ectopic pregnancies can result in scarring and occlusion of the fallopian tubes. Other conditions, such as cancer, endometriosis or surgery may also contribute to the blocking of fallopian tubes.
Asymptomatic Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Surprisingly, many women with blocked fallopian tubes never experience any noticeable symptoms. Since pain from the condition is rare, and not all women notice or experience infertility, it is not uncommon for women with blocked tubes to go several years without knowing about their conditions. It is possible that millions of women actually have blocked fallopian tubes that are undiagnosed. Only through a series of medical tests can a doctor or nurse-midwife accurately determine whether or not a patient has a blocked fallopian tube. Treatment options are variable, and it is usually unnecessary to seek treatment unless the condition results in undesired infertility. Women who suspect that they have blocked fallopian tubes should seek the advice of a qualified medical professional to receive a comprehensive and detailed diagnosis.