Hydrosalpinx: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
If you are in Australia and have been dealing with hydrosalpinx, it’s crucial to understand a few things about this condition. Without the proper knowledge, you may make uninformed decisions and significantly reduce your chances of conception. This piece shall define hydrosalpinx, its causes, diagnosis, and treatments to consider.
A hydrosalpinx is a particular form of fallopian tube blockage. Naturally, the fallopian tubes stretch from the left and right sides of the uterus. Once the tubes become infected, it may cause infertility. Studies have revealed that hydrosalpinx is present in 10-30% of tubal infertility cases, so some women in Australia struggle to get children due to this problem.
Hydrosalpinx blockages typically occur at the furthest end of a fallopian tube (close to the ovaries). It’s possible to have blockages on the right and left ends. If you have a healthy reproductive system, your fallopian tube will allow the ovulated egg to pass through and reach the uterus. Once the egg leaves the ovary, some finger-like projections (fimbriae) from the fallopian tube will draw it into the tube.
Suppose you had sex a few days or hours before ovulation, the ovulated egg will have a higher chance of meeting a sperm in the tube. The fertilization process will occur inside the fallopian tube and not in the uterus, as most people believe. The fertilized egg (embryo) then travels through the tube until it gets to the uterus, where it implants itself into the uterine wall. In case the pathway gets blocked, as it happens when one has hydrosalpinx, infertility issues will follow.
Usually, fimbriae extend from the fallopian tube and near the ovary. Their purpose is to draw the ovulated egg from your ovaries into the tube. If you have hydrosalpinx, the fimbriae will be stuck together or damaged. Depending on the primary cause of the blockage, you may have additional attention surrounding the tube or ovaries. This may also interfere with fertility and ovulation.
Technically speaking, women can conceive even when they have just one open fallopian tube. So, if one of your fallopian tubes has a blockage and the other one is healthy, you will be able to conceive. However, the uterus environment is usually delicate, and it may be affected if you have hydrosalpinx, which will minimize pregnancy rates.
The adhesions or irritation linked with hydrosalpinx minimizes the possibility of conception occurring through the fallopian tube. It is also possible for the fluids to build up inside an affected tube and start leaking into the uterus affecting the embryo implantation process.
So when couples opt to go for IVF treatment without removing the infected fallopian tube surgically, the rate of having a successful pregnancy and live birth will be much lower. Due to this, many fertility specialists recommend getting surgical removal of the fallopian tube blockages before starting IVF treatment. Another treatment option is to conduct an artificial blockade of the unaffected tube near the uterine, so it does not affect your uterine environment.
What causes hydrosalpinx?
Hydrosalpinx is a blockage that occurs when the fallopian tube is filled with fluid. When both tubes get affected, the condition is known as hydrosalpinges. The fallopian tube usually appears distended, meaning it is swollen due to fluid accumulation.
Hydrosalpinx often occurs due to a long-term infection in the fallopian tubes. The infection might occur because of a ruptured appendix, sexually transmitted disease, or other causes of infections that affect the reproductive system and other organs. You may also have a hydrosalpinx problem if scar tissue (adhesions) or endometrial deposits caused by endometriosis irritate the tubes.
What are the symptoms of hydrosalpinx?
One of the primary symptoms of hydrosalpinx is infertility. Many women do not have any signs, so they are diagnosed with this condition after trying to have children unsuccessfully. Some women even experience pelvic pain, while others may have unusual vaginal discharge.
A woman may also have other signs of the root cause of the fallopian tube blockage. One prevalent risk of this condition is pelvic inflammatory disease. Pelvic inflammatory disease is a reproductive organ infection caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea. In some cases, hydrosalpinx may be caused by bacteria that travel all the way to the reproductive tract.
Some women with pelvic inflammatory disease may not experience symptoms. For others, that infection will cause pelvic pain, unusual discharge, and flu-like symptoms. The symptoms of the pelvic inflammatory disease may be chronic or acute. If gone untreated, PID may have severe consequences on your fertility and general health, mainly if the infection spreads further. Luckily you can’t treat the infection with antibiotics.
How is hydrosalpinx diagnosed?
One of the best ways to diagnose blocked fallopian tubes is during a fertility workup. The healthcare professional you see will conduct a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a special x-ray showing tubal blockage.
To confirm if the blockage is actually hydrosalpinx, they will need sonohysterosalpingography. This procedure entails passing sterile air and saline fluid via the cervix and into a uterus. Once this is done, a transvaginal ultrasound is conducted to examine the reproductive organs.
Your healthcare provider may also use ultrasound to diagnose hydrosalpinx, but this method isn’t always effective at visualizing the fluid-filled fallopian tube. A study showed that only 34% of hydrosalpinx blockages could be seen through ultrasound.
Laparoscopy can also be used to diagnose this fallopian tube issue. Diagnostic laparoscopy also determines if some additional factors such as endometriosis are causing fertility issues.
The most common treatment your physician may recommend for hydrosalpinx is surgery, followed by IVF treatment to promote conception. In most cases, the fallopian tube may be obliterated depending on its condition. Also, the root cause of the fallopian tube blockage will determine if you will need surgery to remove other scar tissue, adhesions, or endometrial growths. For instance, if the disease is responsible for the tube blockage problem, you may also be required to take antibiotics.
Another alternative your position may consider is sclerotherapy, a procedure that involves aspirating the liquid from the infected tube. Once this is done, a sclerosing agent will be injected to ensure that the fluid does not get refilled. This is done through a vaginal ultrasound-guided needle, and it’s more invasive than laparoscopic surgery. But, it is unclear what all the potential risks are and if this procedure is genuinely ideal than removing the fallopian tube.
Surgical repair of the infected tube may also be done for other blockages. In this case, the blockage will be opened, but the fallopian tube is left intact. Unfortunately, this treatment method is not recommended for hydrosalpinx because the blockage and swelling are likely to return.
The most common treatment for a woman with hydrosalpinx is to have surgery to remove the affected tube. This type of surgery is known as salpingectomy. Surgery …
. A hydrosalpinx is when a blocked fallopian tube fills with fluid
hydrosalpinx occurs when one or both fallopian tubes are blocked, and the fimbriae are often damaged and stuck together.