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Fimbriae: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 Fimbriae in Human Females
  • 1:02 Function of the Fimbriae
  • 2:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson will cover the definition and function of the fimbriae in the female reproductive system. There is a short quiz to follow that help you test your understanding.

Fimbriae in Human Females

The female reproductive system includes a uterus that has two fallopian tubes, sometimes called uterine tubes, attached to it. These fallopian tubes branch up and out towards the ovaries, which are located on each side of the uterus. The ovaries are the site of ovum, or egg, production and the originating site of ovulation. Ovulation is the process by which the egg is released and begins its journey to the uterus; the egg does so by passing through the fallopian tubes.

The fimbriae play an important part in ovulation. In between the ends of the fallopian tubes and the ovaries, there is a small gap. Fimbriae, or fimbriae tubae, are the finger-like projections located at the ends of the fallopian tubes, closest to the ovaries. The majority of the fimbriae do not touch the ovary but rather hover very close by, activated by hormones to catch a released egg and move it down into the fallopian tube. Let's explore how they accomplish this.

The Function of the Fimbriae

Imagine that it is your turn to do the cleaning at home, and your last task is to sweep the floor. Once the sweeping is done, you are left with a small pile of dirt that must be transferred to a dustpan. The dirt certainly isn't going to jump into the dustpan on its own, so you use a small broom to sweep the dirt particles into it.

In this chore, the bristles of the broom are essential to get the dirt into the dustpan. This is very similar to the function of the fimbriae in the female reproductive system: the mature egg is released from the ovary but must be 'swept' into the fallopian tube by the fimbriae, towards the uterus.

There are tiny hairs known as cilia that exist on the surface of the fimbriae. When a woman's body prepares to ovulate, the cilia get slightly larger and move back and forth. This sweeping motion moves the egg towards the opening of the fallopian tube, where it will continue on its journey to the uterus. The fimbriae and its cilia, like the broom and its bristles, guide the egg, like the dirt particles, in the right direction.

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