Let’s learn about fallopian tubes
You’ve heard of fallopian tubes, sometimes called uterine tubes, part of the fascinating work of machines that the female body is. They know they have something to do with human reproduction and play a role in your monthly cycle – please don’t hold it against them.
With so much talk about the uterus, vagina, and cervix, your cute fallopian tubes aren’t getting enough attention!
Well, today is your day, fallopian tubes! Let’s learn all about them. The role they play in the reproductive cycle, how they work, and conditions that can affect them. Tubular!
What is the fallopian tube?
The best things come in pairs, and the same is (usually) true for the fallopian tubes. Some people may only have one due to a biological abnormality or after removal under certain conditions, but we will come back to that later.
Back to the basics.
These J-shaped tubes extend out of the uterus and open into the abdominal cavity near the ovaries. Just like the tube, your fallopian tubes are the transportation system of your reproductive tract. They transport mature female reproductive cells, the egg cell, from the ovary to the uterus. Each tube is about half an inch in diameter and ten to thirteen centimeters long.
The fallopian tubes consist of four parts. The fimbria traps the egg from the surface of the ovary and looks like funny little fingers. The funnel-shaped infundibulum is attached to them. Keep moving from there and you will reach the ampoule, the widest and longest section of the tubes, and where fertilization normally occurs. After all, the connection between the ampoule and the uterus is the isthmus. What a wild ride!
With a little help from sex hormones like estrogen, the smooth muscle layer of the fallopian tubes supplies the egg with nutrients to move it towards the uterus. Once it hits the uterus, the egg is either shed during menstruation or, if fertilized, is implanted in the uterus to begin the pregnancy journey.
The slippery lining of the fallopian tubes has secretions that help the sperm and egg stay alive on their precarious journey through the reproductive tract. Other nutrients like lactic acid, glucose, and bicarbonates help the fertilized egg develop and create a comfortable environment for fertilization.
When an egg is released every cycle, whether or not it is fertilized, it takes about three to four days to reach the uterus, which moves through a fallopian tube.
Fallopian tube problems
One of the most well-known complications with fallopian tubes is an ectopic pregnancy.
About 1.9% of reported pregnancies are ectopic, or when the fertilized egg is implanted in a location other than the uterus. The most common area for this is the fallopian tubes. Some ectopic pregnancies will correct themselves, while others will require medical treatment or an abortion.
Salpingitis, a form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), causes inflammation in the fallopian tubes that, if left untreated, can lead to long-term complications and fertility problems.
It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, typically an STI such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Usually treated with antibiotics and operated on as needed to prevent long-term complications by having regular STI tests and checking for signs of infection, such as:
- Fever, vomiting, and nausea
- Yellow or malodorous vaginal discharge
- Abdominal pain or dull lower back pain
- Pain during menstruation, sex, or ovulation
Endometriosis is a painful condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterine lining in places where it shouldn’t.
Over time, this tissue can scar and block the fallopian tubes, which can lead to fertility problems and difficulty conceiving. This can sometimes be corrected surgically. In other cases, specialists recommend bypassing the fallopian tubes during conception with fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Although they are quite rare, there are certain congenital abnormalities that can affect people’s fallopian tubes.
This could look like one or both tubes are blocked, which may or may not be surgically corrected. This condition can go undetected until someone encounters fertility problems.
People with a higher risk of congenital fallopian tube problems are people who have been exposed to the chemical diethylstilbestrol in the uterus, or people with a malevolence of the Müllerian duct.
Are these the tubes that are tied?
You guessed it!
When people choose sterilization as their permanent method of contraception, the fallopian tubes usually need to be cut so that the egg does not get into the uterus.
People usually need to undergo counseling and meet certain criteria before they can go through this procedure. Some even choose to do this shortly after giving birth in the postpartum period.
You made it through the wild ride of the fallopian tubes! Are you ready to learn more about your anatomy? The next station in the reproductive train is that cervix. All aboard!