Blocked fallopian tubes

One physical factor which could be impacting your ability to get pregnant is a blockage in one or both of your fallopian tubes. A blockage will prevent sperm and egg from meeting and fertilising.

When to seek help getting pregnant

About 20% of female infertility is related to blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes can be blocked for a number of reasons:

  • inflammation (salpingitis)
  • blocked, damaged or absent from birth (congenital tubal disease)
  • intentional tying or clipping (to prevent pregnancy)
  • accidental damage following other surgery e.g. significant bowel surgery
  • severe endometriosis.
Genea blocked fallopian tubes

Inflammation is the most common reason for blocked fallopian tubes and can happen inside the fallopian tubes as a result of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Inflammation outside the tubes can also cause them to block, this can occur as a result of an infection from another organ such as the appendix.

Inflammation and therefore blockage can occur because of damage from adhesions - where two damaged surfaces join together. Adhesions can also occur after pelvic surgery, infection or as a result of endometriosis. In many cases, doctors can clear the blockage with laparoscopy, microsurgery or by inserting fine catheters into the tubes.

Hydrosalpinx and pyosalpinx

Hydrosalpinx and pyosalpinx are two other forms of blockages that involve liquid rather than physical scarring.

A hydrosalpinx is a particular type of tubal blockage in which the tube is obstructed near its fimbrial end - the open, outside end of the fallopian tube which is in contact with the surface of the ovary. With hydrosalpinx, the tube becomes filled with clear watery fluid.
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 occurs, patients require an operation to drain it and the abscess.

Frequently Asked Questions

A blockage will prevent sperm and the egg from meeting and fertilising. 

Blocked tubes rarely cause any symptoms.  It’s common for women to be completely unaware until they have trouble conceiving.

About 20% of female infertility is related to blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.

Blocked tubes are usually diagnosed with either a specialised ultrasound (HyCoSy), and x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) - or by laparoscopy (abdominal “key-hole” surgery).