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Blocked Tubes

Blocked tubes can cause infertility in women

When a couple has trouble conceiving, there can be many causes. Among the most common is blocked tubes. Thankfully, a simple imaging test can check whether your fallopian tubes are open and healthy appearing, allowing conception to occur. Called a hysterosalpingogram or HSG, this is one of the first tests our fertility specialist will order when patients come to us for comprehensive fertility testing in New Braunfels.

How do blocked tubes cause infertility?

The fallopian tubes play a critical role in conception because they are the place where the sperm and egg meet. In each menstrual cycle, the ovaries typically release a single egg, which travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. If sperm are introduced during the egg’s journey, they will swim up the fallopian tube to meet with the egg, and fertilization can occur. If blocked tubes are present, the egg can’t make it through the tube, and the sperm can’t reach the egg.

How do fallopian tubes become blocked?

There can be many different causes for blocked tubes.

  • Endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine lining grows where it isn’t supposed to, causing scarring and blockages
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection or inflammation that is often caused by an untreated sexually transmitted disease
  • Previous injury to the fallopian tubes, which can be caused by surgery, trauma or a prior ectopic pregnancy
  • Uterine fibroids or polyps close to the fallopian tube opening
  • Tubal ligation, or having your “tubes tied” for birth control
  • Rare birth defects in which all or part of a fallopian tube is missing

What is an HSG?

HSG is the test we use to check whether fallopian tubes are patent, or open. A hysterosalpingogram is an imaging study that is performed in the early part of your menstrual cycle, before ovulation.

For this test, a special dye is injected through the cervix and into your uterus. Using X-ray imaging, the radiologist performing the study will watch the dye flow throughout your reproductive system, and will be able to see if it is unable to flow easily through the fallopian tubes. This test can also verify that your uterus is a normal shape and is free of any obstructions.

How is a blocked fallopian tube treated?

Sometimes, if the obstruction in the tube is small, the movement of the dye through the tube during an HSG may be enough to clear it away. If this happens, the radiologist will be able to see the dye begin to flow freely.

If the blockage doesn’t clear during the test, and only one tube is blocked, we may recommend fertility medications to boost ovulation in the ovary on the unblocked side, sometimes in conjunction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) to increase your chances of conception.

If both tubes are blocked, there are surgical options that may be able to clear the tubes. However, in most cases, we recommend moving straight to IVF because the chances of pregnancy success are higher, and the risks are lower.

With IVF, multiple eggs are extracted directly from the ovaries and fertilized outside of the body, bypassing the blocked tubes to create embryos that can later be transferred to the uterus to achieve pregnancy.

Get fertility testing in New Braunfels

If you are younger than 35 and have been trying to conceive without success for one year, or if you are 35 or older and it’s been six months without birth control or a positive pregnancy test, it’s time to come in for fertility testing. An HSG to check for blocked tubes is almost always part of our initial fertility testing in New Braunfels and is typically covered by insurance. Contact us today to schedule your first visit with an experienced reproductive endocrinologist.