The fallopian tubes are symmetrical paired tubular organs that connect the peritoneal cavity to the endometrium in the uterine cavity. The fallopian tubes are more than simple conduits or “open pipes.” The fallopian tubes capture the ovum after ovulation and serve as a conduit for its travel toward the uterus. Fertilization of the egg by the sperm occurs in the fallopian tube. Following fertilization, the zygote develops into an embryo and continues to travel through the fallopian tube into the uterine cavity, where it implants in the endometrium. The fallopian tubes provide the environment and conditions for conception and for the early development of the conceptus.
Furthermore, the ovum, zygote, and embryo have no intrinsic motility. The fallopian tube is both the conduit and the transporter of the ovum and the early conceptus. Tubal function also aids transport of sperm to the site of fertilization. The fallopian tubes are thus essential and necessary in normal, natural, unassisted reproduction in women.
The multiple and complex functions of the fallopian tubes can be affected by disease, resulting in infertility and, in extreme cases, sterility. Fallopian tube reconstruction has been the traditional method of restoring reproductive function to women with tubal infertility. Today, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET) bypass the fallopian tubes in the reproductive process and are additional options in the treatment of these patients.
For more information, see Medscape’s Pregnancy Resource Center.