Female Reproductive System
|What Is The Female Reproductive System?
It is the system that allows for pregnancy in women. Apart from the entrance to the vagina and the vulva, the female reproductive system is hidden inside the body. It consists of the:
The reproductive organs inside the body are contained and protected by the pelvic girdle (a group of bones, including the hip bones that make up the pelvis). This bony girdle has the same structure in both sexes but is wider in the female in order to allow room for the passage of a baby.
Did You Know?
The female body is capable of producing up to 35 children in an average lifetime.
||What Is The Vulva?
The external organs of the female reproductive system are collectively known as the vulva. They include the mons pubis, the labia majora and minora and the clitoris.
Mons pubis: A protective pad of fat over the pubic bone. It is covered in hair after puberty.
Labia majora: 2 large folds of fatty tissue which run lengthways either side of the vulva from the mons pubis to the perineum (skin between the vulva and anus). They protect the entrance to the vagina and urethra (where urine comes out).
Labia minora: 2 smaller folds of skin within the labia majora. They surround the clitoris and form a hood (prepuce) to protect it.
Clitoris: A very small, sensitive organ that is equivalent to the male penis. It even contains erectile tissue like the penis. It is situated just below the mons pubis. During sexual activity the erectile tissues fill with blood and swell. Its only known function is to stimulate sexual pleasure.
|What Is The Vagina?
Structure: The vagina is a muscular passage that leads from the vulva to the neck of the womb (cervix). It connects the internal reproductive organs with those on the outside of the body. During sexual activity the blood vessels in the vaginal walls fill with blood causing them to swell and become engorged.
Structure: The cervix is the narrow neck of the uterus which opens into the vagina. Usually it has an opening about the width of a pencil to allow sperm through and period blood out. But during childbirth it dilates to allow the passage of the baby.
What Is The Uterus?
The center of the female reproductive system is the uterus, also known as the womb. It is here that a fertilized egg (ovum) grows into a baby. The top end opens out into the Fallopian tubes (which lead to the ovaries) and the bottom end, or cervix, opens into the vagina and forms the birth canal.
Function: The uterus is the place where the fetus grows and develops. Every month it prepares
Structure: The Fallopian tubes are tubes that connect the uterus and ovaries. They have a funnel-like end with finger-like projections that catch an egg when it is released from an ovary. The egg moves through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. They are named after the Italian anatomist who discovered them.
Structure: The ovaries are two glands. They are approximately the size and shape of almonds and they are positioned either side of the uterus, just below the fallopian tubes.
What Is A Follicle?
These are small structures on the surface of the ovary that contain eggs. Follicles are known as Graafian follicles when they mature. They contain fluid and an egg. As soon as an egg is mature and ready to be fertilized, the follicle splits, releasing the egg which then travels along the Fallopian tube towards the uterus.
What Are The Breasts?
The breasts are accessory organs to the reproductive system. Although not directly involved in the process of reproduction, they develop during pregnancy ready for their function as milk-secreting glands.
|Diseases And Disorders Of The Reproductive System
Check your symptoms: Reproductive disorders, symptom checker
Absence of periods
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Other Useful Guides
Gynecological disorders: Common problems women experience 'down there'.
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