The uterine tubes (or fallopian tubes) are muscular tubes leading from the ovaries into the uterus. The uterine tubes are responsible for collecting the egg each month. Fusion between the egg and the sperm (fertilisation) also takes place inside them. The resulting embryo is taken to the uterus where the pregnancy will evolve. Evidently, the fallopian tubes fulfil essential roles in natural reproduction linked to ovulation, fertilisation and pregnancy. In fact, diseases or abnormalities in the uterine tubes are the cause of up to 30% of all cases of sterility.
Anatomical integrity of the fallopian tubes is essential to natural fertility. Many health conditions can affect the fallopian tubes. For example, an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus in one of the uterine tubes). Surgical intervention and removal of the affected tube is often necessary with conditions of this kind in order for them to be adequately cleared up. Questions arise following surgery: Will I be able to get pregnant naturally if I only have one fallopian tube? The answer is yes, although there will be a slight decrease in the chances of natural conception. Some research puts this decrease at between 15 and 45%.
There are other illnesses, as well as ectopic pregnancies, that can damage one or both fallopian tubes. For example, endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases and abdominal surgery (appendicitis and peritonitis, amongst others). Should both tubes be affected (or should they have been removed), natural conception is highly unlikely and appropriate treatment will include assisted reproduction treatment by means of in vitro fertilisation in order to achieve a pregnancy.