What if I have blocked tubes?
The Fallopian tubes are the links between the ovaries and the womb. Pregnancy through natural conception can only occur if sperm are able to swim through the tubes to meet and fertilise an egg at the end of a tube. The fertilised egg (embryo) then travels back down the tube to implant in the womb cavity.
Blocked tubes can be the cause of infertility in up to 25% of couples. Blockages can occur following a pelvic infection (such as chlamydia) or other pelvic disease (such as endometriosis or previous surgery). Often a complete blockage can be present with no known history of infection or disease, and no symptoms apart from infertility. It is also possible to have been born without tubes (congenital absence), or to have a partial mucus obstruction.
Testing for blocked tubes requires a special ultrasound scan (HyCoSy) or X-ray (HSG) or day-case surgery (laparoscopy). Sometimes the test itself can clear the tubes and rates of natural conception can be increased afterwards. However, sometimes trying to correct the blockage would require difficult and significant surgery, and these days most couples with such a problem would immediately move to IVF (which was originally invented for this particular problem). There are also some cases where a blocked tube is enlarged (hydrosalpinx) and the presence of this can significantly affect IVF success rates. Such a tube can be removed or clipped to improve IVF success rates.