Occlusion is the medical term used for any blockage in a woman’s or man’s system. In women, fallopian tube blockages (also called tubal blockages) are most common. In men, a blockage in the duct system (the epididymis or the vas deferens) may prevent sperm from reaching the ejaculate.


This condition is diagnosed in women by hysterosalpingogram, hysteroscopy or laparoscopy.


For women, causes include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Scar tissue from abdominal surgery
  • Congenital conditions
  • Fibroids
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Hernias

For men, causes include:

  • Scar tissue from abdominal surgery
  • Congenital conditions
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Inguinal hernias
  • Vasectomies

For women with tubal blockages, laparoscopy , hysteroscopy and balloon tuboplasty may be appropriate treatments.

If none of these treatments work, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the only treatment option. IVF bypasses the tubes, and thus the blockage. It is important to note that removing the blockages does not always solve the fertility problems and women who have blockages removed may still need IVF.

For men, one available treatment option is called a vasovasostomy, a procedure in which the doctor reconnects the ends of the vas deferens together once the blockage has been removed. The procedure restores continuity to the vas deferens to restore sperm in the ejaculate. Success of the procedure depends on a number of factors and should be discussed with a urologist or other healthcare professional.

If the couple do not want surgery or they are not candidates, or if the occlusion is not treatable, a testicular biopsy can be performed to remove sperm from the testes and stored for possible use with IVF/ICSI in the future.

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