Having fluid in the fallopian tubes, a condition also known as hydrosalpinx, can cause a number of symptoms in affected women. The most common symptom is chronic pelvic pain, which can cause significant distress and limit a woman's ability to function. Shorter-term pelvic pain might also be observed. Some patients do not have pain but instead experience problems with fertility as a result of their abnormal reproductive tracts. Other women with hydrosalpinx are free from symptoms, and only discover they have the condition incidentally.
Perhaps the most common symptom that women experience as a result of having fluid in the fallopian tubes is chronic pelvic pain. The type of pain experienced can vary widely, but women might feel an achy, a cramping, or a sharp pain. It is typically located in the region below the belly button. Often this pain is felt on a daily basis for longer than a six month time period, and causes women a significant amount of dysfunction and inability to perform their daily activities.
In addition to causing chronic pelvic pain, having fluid in the fallopian tubes can also cause more short-term pain. For example, women might experience pain halfway through their menstrual cycles, at the time of ovulation. The movement of the egg from the ovary to the uterus through the abnormal fallopian tube causes this pain. Women could also experience pain with sexual intercourse as a result of damaged fallopian tubes.
Another symptom of hydrosalpinx can be problems with fertility. This can present in a number of ways. Women might have problems becoming pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex for months to years. The abnormal fallopian tube prevents the mature egg from being transported from the ovary to the uterus, thus making fertilization of the egg and implantation of embryos in the uterine wall difficult. On the other hand, women might be able to become pregnant, but suffer from an ectopic pregnancy because the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus as a result of the abnormal fallopian tube.
Some women who have an accumulation of fluid in the fallopian tubes might be asymptomatic. They have no problems with their menstrual cycles, with being able to conceive and carry pregnancies, or with having chronic pain in the pelvic region. The presence of hydrosalpinx might be noted on an imaging study done for other purposes altogether. For example, a computed tomography (CT) scan could coincidentally highlight the abnormal collection of fluid in this part of the female reproductive tract. If this happens, sometimes a further workup that includes either additional imaging studies or a biopsy may be required to ensure that the mass seen on the imaging test is just a hydrosalpinx and not a benign or malignant tumor.