by Corey Whelan
Hydrosalpinx is an accumulation of fluid in a fallopian tube. This build-up of clear, watery liquid causes the tube to become enlarged, damaged and blocked. The blockage prohibits the joining of sperm and egg, thus pregnancy cannot take place. Hydrosalpinx typically occurs at the tube end that is closest to the ovary. The hydrosalpinx may occur in one or both tubes.
Hydrosalpinx is commony caused by an old infection which is the result of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STD's such as chlyamidia and gonnorhea often go undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease and tubal factor infertility.
Hydrosalpinx can also result from previous surgery or severe pelvic adhesions.
Women with hydrosalpinx will sometimes be asymptomic, although others will experience constant or frequent pain or discomfort in the abdominal region. Vaginal discharge can also be associated with the condition.
Your doctor can diagnose hydrosalpinx via a special type of x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). An HSG requires the injection of fluid into the uterus. If the tubes are open, the liquid will flow out of the ends of the fallopian tube. If the tubes are blocked the fluid remains trapped.
A woman with one blocked tube may still become pregnant naturally if the other tube is not damaged. However, if natural pregnancy remains unattainable, women who require In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may have an additional obstacle. According to fertility specialist Dr. Edward Ramirez, a hydrosalpinx that is visible on ultrasound can interfere with implantation in IVF. Says Ramirez, "It is presumed that the hydrosalpinx has inflammatory fluid that back-flows into the uterine cavity, leading to a low grade endometritis or inflammation of the endometrium. Pregnancy rates for women with the condition decrease by around 50%." This does not pertain to dilated tubes caused by tubal ligation (having your tubes tied).
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), your doctor might recommend that your fallopian tube is removed or separated from the uterus prior to the start of IVF, which may increase your ability to conceive via the procedure.