Fallopian Tubes

Female Reproductive System

Fallopian tube anatomy

Female Reproductive Organs
The fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus are the upper female reproductive organs.

The fallopian tubes stretch from the uterus to the ovaries and measure about 8 to 10 cm (4 to 6 inches) in length. The ends of the fallopian tubes lying next to the ovaries feather into ends called fimbria (Latin for "fringes" or "fingers"). Millions of tiny hair-like cilia line the fimbria and interior of the fallopian tubes. The cilia beat in waves hundreds of times a second catching the egg at ovulation and moving it through the tube to the uterine cavity. Other cells in the tube's inner lining or endothelium nourish the egg and lubricate it's path during its stay inside the fallopian tube. Once inside the fallopian tube, the egg and sperm meet and the egg is fertilized. If an egg doesn't become fertilized within 24 to 36 hours after ovulation, it will deteriorate and be removed by the body's immune system like any other dead cell in the body.

Segments of the fallopian tube

Fallopian Tube Anatomy
The fallopian tube stretches between the uterus and the ovary and is where the egg fertilized the egg. The fallopian tube nourishes and carries the fertilized egg to the uterus.

The fallopian tube is not just a passive pipe or a conduit, but an active organ with its separate locations performing separate functions. Starting from the ovarian end (fimbria) and proceeding toward the uterus, these are the:

  • Fimbrial segment - faces the ovary
  • Infundibular segment - funnel shaped segment behind the fimbria
  • Ampullary segment - wide middle segment
  • Isthmic segment - narrow muscular segment near the uterus
  • Interstitial segment - passes through the uterine muscle into the uterine cavity

Role of the fallopian tubes in fertilization and implantation

A muscular ligament called the fimbria ovarica joins the fimbrial end of the tube and the ovary. At the time of ovulation, the fimbria ovarica contracts to pull the fimbrial end of the tube even closer to the ovary. The beating cilia cells of the fimbria capture the egg and draw it into the fallopian tube. Muscular contractions of the tube and the cilia of its inner lining move the egg and sperm toward the uterus. The interstitial segment of the tube acts like a muscle sphincter and prevents the egg from being released into the uterus until it is ready for implantation. During its week-long journey through the fallopian tube, a fertilized egg is nourished by cells lining the tubal lumen while the egg divides many times. When the outer membrane of the egg breaks apart, allowing the embryo to "hatch", it is able to implant itself into the uterine lining or endometrium. Implantation usually occurs about 1 week after ovulation.

Female Reproductive System

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