The fallopian tubes are ducts which link a woman’s ovaries to her uterus, and which act as a channel through which an egg passes into the uterus during ovulation. Fallopian tube pain, which often registers as generalized pelvic pain, can be uncomfortable and even frightening. Understanding the potential causes of pain in the fallopian tubes can be the first step in eliminating this unpleasant condition. Pain in the fallopian tubes can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection, by a health condition such as endometriosis, or by an ectopic pregnancy. In rare instances, pain may occur because one of the fallopian tubes has become twisted or has developed cancer.
A common cause of fallopian tube pain is sexually transmitted infection. Specifically, the fallopian tubes can be affected by Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The bacteria which cause these conditions can infect the fallopian tubes, causing the tissue which lines them to become scarred. This scar tissue can in turn cause the tubes to become blocked, leading to pain and, often, fertility problems. To avoid damage to the fallopian tubes, sexually transmitted infections must be treated early with antibiotics.
Endometriosis may also be responsible for fallopian tube pain. This condition arises when various parts of the reproductive system, often including the fallopian tubes, develop an abnormal layer of tissue during the menstrual cycle. The tissue, which cannot be shed in the way that uterine tissue is, begins to build up, causing scarring, blockage, and pain in the areas it affects. Endometriosis can sometimes be treated with medication or surgical intervention.
Another potential cause of fallopian tube pain is ectopic pregnancy. In this condition, a fertilized egg does not become implanted in the uterine wall, but instead implants in the fallopian tubes or another part of the reproductive system. Sharp pelvic pain is one of the most common symptoms of this condition. Often, an ectopic pregnancy occurs because the fallopian tubes have been damaged, either by an infection such as PID or by a condition like endometriosis. As an egg implanted outside the uterus cannot survive, and its growth can cause serious internal bleeding, an ectopic pregnancy must generally be terminated via an oral medication or surgery.
Very rarely, fallopian tube pain may be caused by a condition called tubal torsion. In this condition, which is often quite painful, one of the fallopian tubes becomes twisted, resulting in a diminished blood flow to the structure. This may result from a physical abnormality of the reproductive structures, from the internal shifts which occur during pregnancy, or from physical trauma, such as a car accident. Tubal torsion generally requires surgical treatment.
Finally, while uncommon, fallopian tube pain can sometimes result from fallopian tube cancer. This condition occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow within the fallopian tubes. Due to the structure and location of the fallopian tubes, this type of cancer can be difficult to diagnose. As with all cancers, however, early intervention improves the chances of successful treatment. Therefore, women with persistent, undiagnosed pain in the fallopian tube area should consult a physician to rule out a serious condition like cancer.