When it comes to fertilization, blocked fallopian tubes can cause a whole host of problems. As one of the leading causes of female infertility, many couples struggling to conceive find themselves facing this frustrating hurdle. While there are various treatment options available, understanding the impact that these blockages have on egg fertilization is essential for those looking to start a family. In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what blocked fallopian tubes are and how they affect fertility so you can be armed with all the knowledge you need should you ever face this challenge along your journey toward parenthood.
What is a Fallopian Tube?
When an egg is released from the ovary, it travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. The fallopian tubes are about four inches long and are lined with cilia, tiny hairs that help to move the egg along. Once the egg reaches the uterus, it may be fertilized by sperm and implant in the lining of the uterus to begin a pregnancy.
A blocked fallopian tube prevents an egg from traveling from the ovary to the uterus. It can also prevent sperm from traveling from the cervix to reach an egg in the fallopian tube. When one or both fallopian tubes are blocked, it’s called tubal factor infertility.
How Egg Fertilization Normally Occurs?
In order for fertilization to occur, sperm must travel through the cervix, into the uterus, and then up into the fallopian tube to meet the egg. The journey from the ovary to the fallopian tube is known as ovulation. Once an egg is released from an ovary, it has about 12-24 hours to be fertilized. If it’s not, the egg will dissolve and you will have your period.
For egg fertilization to happen, thousands of sperm must travel through the cervix and into the uterus. The sperm that make it this far will start to swim up into the fallopian tube where they will eventually meet the egg. Once they reach the ampulla, which is a widening in the fallopian tube, they will go through selective permeability. This means that only the healthiest sperm will be able to pass through and continue on toward the egg.
The final steps of fertilization include penetration of the zona pellucida, the release of acids that digest a hole in this outer layer of protection around the egg known as capacitation, the release of acrosomal enzymes which also help break down barriers surrounding the egg, and finally fusion of plasma membranes between sperm and egg which makes them one cell.
What Causes Blocked Fallopian Tubes?
There are a few different reasons why a woman’s fallopian tubes might become blocked. One common reason is scar tissue that forms after a past infection or surgery in the pelvic area. Endometriosis, a condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, can also cause scar tissue to form and block the fallopian tubes. Other growths, such as fibroids, can also block the fallopian tubes. In some cases, there is no known cause for blocked fallopian tubes.
Blocked fallopian tubes can have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to get pregnant. If one or both of the fallopian tubes are blocked, it can prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Even if sperm is able to reach the egg, it may be unable to fertilize it if the fallopian tube is partially blocked. If both Fallopian tubes are completely blocked, it is called tubal occlusion and pregnancy is not possible without medical intervention.
Signs & Symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tubes
There are a few key signs and symptoms associated with blocked fallopian tubes. Many women with this condition experience pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, often during intercourse. They may also have irregular periods or bleeding between periods. In some cases, women with blocked fallopian tubes will have no symptoms at all. Diagnosis is typically made through special fertility tests like hysterosalpingography (HSG) or laparoscopy.
If you think you may have blocked fallopian tubes, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can help improve your chances of getting pregnant. Surgery to repair the blockage is an option for some women, while others may need to IVF (in vitro fertilization).
Treatments for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
There are a few different ways that doctors can treat blocked fallopian tubes. One common method is called tubal surgery, which involves opening up the fallopian tubes and correcting any blockage. This type of surgery is usually done laparoscopically, which means that it’s performed through small incisions in the abdomen.
Another option is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a process where eggs are fertilized in a lab dish and then implanted into the uterus. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes altogether, so it can be an effective treatment for blocked tubes.
If you have blocked fallopian tubes, it’s important to talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options. They can help you figure out which one is best for you, based on your individual case.
What Happens if the Egg Cannot Pass Through the Tube?
If an egg cannot pass through the Fallopian tube, it cannot be fertilized. This can happen due to a number of reasons, including:
- The Fallopian tubes are blocked by physical obstruction, such as growth or inflammation.
- The muscles of the Fallopian tubes are not working properly, preventing the egg from passing through.
- There is damage to the lining of the Fallopian tube, making it difficult for the egg to attach and travel down the tube.
- If any of these conditions are present, it is likely that the egg will never make it to the uterus, where it would normally be fertilized by sperm. As a result, pregnancy cannot occur.
Alternatives to Overcome Infertility Caused By Blockage
When it comes to overcoming infertility caused by a blockage in the fallopian tubes, there are a few different options available. The first is In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), which is a process where eggs are fertilized outside of the body and then implanted into the uterus. This option is often successful but can be quite costly. Another option is donor egg IVF, which is similar to traditional IVF but uses eggs from a donor instead of the patient’s own eggs. There is surgery to repair the blocked fallopian tubes. This option can be successful, but may not be an option for everyone.
As we have seen, blocked fallopian tubes can have a significant impact on egg fertilization. While there are treatments available to improve the chances of conception, it is important to understand the potential risks and limitations of these procedures. In some cases, fertility may be permanently compromised. As such, couples who are considering starting a family should speak with their doctor about all of their options and what to expect.