What Is the Function of the Fallopian Tubes?

A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the fallopian tubes.
It's possible for uterine fibroids to interfere with the function of fallopian tubes.
The fallopian tubes are one of the main components of the female reproductive system.
A fallopian tubes infection that is left untreated my cause permanent damage in the female reproductive tract.
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  • Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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The fallopian tubes are one of the main components of the female reproductive system, and they must work properly to ensure fertility. Each side of the uterus has a fallopian tube extending from it that reaches to the ovary on the corresponding side. The main function of the fallopian tubes is to catch eggs released from the ovaries each month during ovulation, and guide them into the uterus.

One ovary releases an egg each month in a healthy, ovulating female. Once the egg emerges from the ovary, small hair-like fibers on the ends of the fallopian tubes pull the egg inside the tube. The insides of the tubes are also lined with these small fibers, and they move and vibrate quickly to pull the egg up through the tube toward the uterus. The fallopian tubes keep the egg healthy while it waits for fertilization. Cells inside the lining of the tubes help keep the egg moving and provide it with nutrients until it is fertilized and reaches the uterus.

An egg stays inside the fallopian tube for 24 to 36 hours. During this time, fertilization is possible if sperm meets the egg. Once an egg has been fertilized, the tubes move the egg to the uterus, or womb, so that it can implant itself in the uterine lining. The tube contracts to help move the egg, a process that can take up to a week.

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If the egg is not fertilized within 24 to 36 hours, it dies and disintegrates within the tube. Though a woman is only fertile for a day or a little longer after she ovulates, sperm can live inside the fallopian tubes for several days. This makes it possible for an egg to be fertilized from sperm that was present before ovulation.

Some women experience medical problems that interfere with the function of the fallopian tubes and other parts of the reproductive system. The tubes may be damaged because of a pelvic infection, uterine fibroids, or an ectopic pregnancy that occurs in a fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. If the tubes are blocked due to damage, an egg may not be able to move through them to the uterus, causing fertility problems. Surgery can often correct these problems, but the full function may not be restored. Women who undergo surgery on the fallopian tubes have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancies, and they may opt for in vitro fertilization to minimize this risk.

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Ana1234
Post 4

I've always been worried that I'll have an ectopic pregnancy, because I know one of my aunts had one and it nearly killed her.

I'm not sure if there's a genetic predisposition to having them, but it always seems like the female anatomy is strange enough that anything is possible and the idea of an embryo growing in a strange place just seems creepy and sad to me.

indigomoth
Post 3

@irontoenail - Seems a good time to remind women that if they are having very long spaces between their periods- like say, 60 days or so, it could be because of a blocked fallopian tube or something wrong with an ovary.

That's definitely something you want to check out. If it only happens once, it's probably not a big deal, but if it's happened several times in a row, go to your doctor with some dates in hand because they need to check you out and make sure everything is OK.

irontoenail
Post 2

@anon314285 - Yup, a woman can definitely get pregnant if only one tube is functioning. It would be more difficult, because each ovary only releases an egg every two months, so there would be fewer chances for the woman to become pregnant. But, as long as there isn't anything else wrong, it's definitely possible.

If you're hoping it will work as some kind of birth control I would talk to a doctor, because whatever has stopped one tube from working might have affected the whole reproduction system and a doctor could tell you how you could adapt to using timing as a birth control.

If you're worried about not being able to get pregnant I would talk to a doctor about that as well, since they'll know best how likely your chances are with impaired fallopian tube function.

Either way, good luck!

anon314285
Post 1

What if only one tube is functioning? Can a woman get pregnant?

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