The fallopian tubes are a pair of long, narrow ducts that transport male sperm cells to the egg, provide a suitable environment for fertilization, and transport the egg from the ovary to the central channel of the uterus. The fallopian tube has four parts, lateral to medial, including:
- Fimbriae: finger-like structures located at the ends of the fallopian tubes that capture the ovum from the surface of the ovary
- Infundibulum: a funnel-shaped opening near the ovary to which the fimbriae are attached
- Ampulla – the widest section of the uterine tubes in which fertilization typically occurs
- Isthmus – a narrow section of the uterine tubes that connects the ampulla to the uterine cavity
The fallopian tubes also have small hair-like projections called cilia on the cells of the lining, which are vital in moving the egg through the tube and into the uterus. If the tubal cilia are damaged by infection, the egg may not move along as it should and may stay in the tube. Infection may also cause scar tissue to create a partial or total blockage of the tube, physically preventing the egg from traveling to the uterus.
The fallopian tubes play an active part in the process of fertilization. Just before ovulation, smooth muscle tissue in the fimbriae responds to the female sex hormones’ changing levels and begins to produce slow, steady contractions. This results in the sweeping of the surface of the ovary by the fimbriae as it awaits the release of the ova. When the ovum is released, the fimbriae carries it into the infundibulum. Then cilia carries the ovum through the infundibulum, ampulla, and isthmus toward the uterus. Sperm that is deposited into the vagina during sexual intercourse may enter the fallopian tubes from the uterus and fertilize the ovum.
On the other hand, there are medical problems that can cause the blockage of the fallopian tube, making it unable to transport the egg. Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that does not occur within the uterus. This typically occurs when the fertilized egg implants into the side of the fallopian tube rather than the side of the uterus. Although the egg can implant, the fetus can not survive this way. The woman must undergo surgery to remove the implanted egg.
Our board-certified fertility specialists, Dr. Sameh Toma and Dr. Gerald Mulvaney, treat each couple with a customized plan of care by closely examining what you have already been through and what makes the most sense for you, not us. We listen to you and give you our best guidance along your fertility journey. As our motto says, “we deliver dreams, one baby at a time.” Our team specializes in fertility testing, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility conditions. We’re experts in IVF, Tubal Ligation Reversal, Male Infertility, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Gestation Surrogacy, Family Balancing and more.