32% of all cases of infertility are attributed to Fallopian tube blockage. Tubal blockages can prevent the egg and sperm from meeting, thus impairing fertilization, or can prevent the movement of a fertilized egg into the uterus. It is possible to have bilateral or unilateral Fallopian tube blockage, spasms of the tubes, mucus plugs, fluid buildup (hydrosalpinx) or scar tissue in the Fallopian tubes.
Chinese medical treatment for blocked Fallopian tubes
Traditional Chinese medicine offers a variety of therapies to treat blocked, scarred, or adhered Fallopian tubes without surgical intervention:
Acupuncture helps to relax spasms in the tubes, as well as promote movement within the tubes allowing for enhanced fertilization and implantation. Many patients report decreased pain with menstruation and with intercourse as positive side effects of acupuncture therapy.
Reproductive organ massage is a therapy in which friction and deep pressure are used to manually encourage the tubes to open. Research has shown that the success rates of manual therapy rivals or exceeds that obtained with surgery, and without the associated risks. In patients with completely occluded Fallopian tubes it provides much higher ongoing success rates than surgical procedures, often allowing for multiple natural pregnancies without the need for repeated treatment.
Herbal medicine decreases inflammation in the Fallopian tubes and pelvic organs. It is especially useful in cases of Fallopian tube blockage due to past infection. Biologically active substances found in some
Chinese herbs help soften scar tissue and adhesions as well as dissolve mucus plugs within the Fallopian tubes.
Nutritional supplements and dietary therapy help to repair the fragile mucus membranes of the Fallopian tubes and create an optimal environment to heal and repair damaged tissue.
Causes of Fallopian tube blockage
Blocked Fallopian tubes are often the result of previous pelvic infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), salpingitis, or bacterial STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Endometriosis, or adhesions resulting from pelvic or abdominal surgery, are also possible causes of Fallopian tube blockage.
Diagnosis of Fallopian tube blockage
Fallopian tube blockage is most commonly diagnosed by hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a procedure utilizing dye to test the patency of the Fallopian tubes. Surgical procedures such as laparotomy or laparoscopy are also used for diagnosis.
Western medical treatment
Western medicine offers many different surgical procedures to reduce or remove blockages in the Fallopian tubes, depending on the location and severity of the blockage. IVF (in vitro fertilization) is also an option for bypassing tubal blockages. Fallopian tube surgery is primarily indicated for patients who are young and do not have other issues impacting their overall fertility, to reverse a tubal ligation, or to remove a hydrosalpinx (buildup of fluid in the tube), to allow for natural pregnancy, or prior to an IVF procedure. Risks associated with surgery include pelvic infections, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, and the formation of scar tissue or adhesions on the reproductive organs. A study in Human Reproduction reported that many Fallopian tubes close again within six months post-surgery (81%), presumably due to the formation of adhesions after surgery.
Tubal reanastomosis is used to reverse a tubal ligation or to repair a portion of the Fallopian tube damaged by disease. The damaged portion of the tube is removed, and the two healthy ends of the tube are joined together.
Salpingectomy involves the removal of part of a Fallopian tube when a hydrosalpinx is present. Removal of a hydrosalpinx is common before an IVF procedure, and can double the success rate of IVF.
Salpingostomy is useful when the end of the Fallopian tube near the ovary is blocked by a hydrosalpinx; it creates a new opening in that portion of the tube.
Fimbrioplasty, a reconstructive operation on the distal end of the tube, may be done when there is a blockage or scar tissue in the part of the tube closest to the ovary, preventing the normal pickup of eggs.
Selective tubal cannulation is a nonsurgical procedure used for tubal blockage next to the uterus (proximal occlusion). These types of blockages are often functional (mucus plugs, etc.) rather than structural (scarring, adhesions, etc.).