The female reproductive system is composed up of the internal and external sex organs that work in the reproduction of a new baby. The female reproductive system is immature at birth and develops to maturity at puberty. The internal sex organs of the female reproductive system are the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The uterus holds the embryo which develops into the fetus. The uterus further provides vaginal and uterine secretions which support the transit of sperm to the Fallopian tubes. The ovaries of the female reproductive system produce the ova (egg cells).
The external sex organs of the female reproductive system are also known as the genitals and these are the organs of the vulva including the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening. The vagina is attached to the uterus at the cervix.
Usually, fertilization occurs in the Fallopian tubes and marks the beginning of embryogenesis. The zygote will next divide over enough generations of cells to form a blastocyst, which embeds itself in the wall of the uterus. This starts the period of gestation and the embryo will continue to progress until full-term. When the fetus has matured enough to survive outside the uterus, the cervix dilates and contractions of the uterus move the newborn within the birth canal (the vagina).
The female reproductive system located entirely in the pelvis that’s the lowest part of the abdomen. The female reproductive organs external part is called the vulva, which means covering. Located between the legs, the vulva covers the opening to the vagina and other female reproductive organs located inside the body.
External Organ of the Female Reproductive System
The fleshy area located just above the top of the vaginal opening is called the mons pubis. Two pairs of skin flaps called the labia to surround the vaginal opening. The clitoris a small sensory organ is positioned near the front of the vulva where the folds of the labia join. Between the labia are openings to the urethra and vagina.
Labia majora: The labia majora enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs. The labia majora are comparatively large and fleshy and are similar to the scrotum in males. The labia majora contain sweat and oil-secreting glands. Once girls grow sexually mature, the outer labia and the mons pubis are masked by pubic hair.
Labia minora: The labia minora can be very small, they lie just inside the labia majora, and surround the openings of the vagina and urethra.
Bartholin’s glands are located beside the vaginal opening and produce a mucus secretion.
Clitoris: The two labia minora meet at the clitoris, a small, sensitive protrusion. The clitoris is covered by a fold of skin, called the prepuce. The clitoris is very sensitive to stimulation and can become erect.
Internal Organs of the Female Reproductive System
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive secondary sex organ of the female reproductive system. The uterus shape is like an upside-down pear and has thick walls. It is within the uterus that the fetus develops during gestation. In the human embryo, the uterus develops from the paramesonephric ducts that fuse within the single organ recognized as a simplex uterus. The uterus is a secondary sex organ. are components of the reproductive tract that mature throughout the puberty under the influence of sex hormones generated from primary sex organs ( the testes in males and the ovaries in females).They are bound for the preservation and transportation of gametes. The uterus’s foremost role is to house and nourish a fetus till it’s ready for birth.
The uterus is located in the middle of the pelvis, in front of the rectum and behind the bladder. The original location of the uterus inside the pelvis differs from person to person.
Anteverted uterus. Anteverted uterus tips slightly forward.
Retroverted uterus. A retroverted uterus bends slightly backward.
Anatomy and function of the uterus
The fundus is the uppermost portion of the uterus. The fundus is broad and curved. The fallopian tubes connect to the uterus just below the fundus.
The corpus is the main body of the uterus. It’s pretty muscular and can stretch to accommodate a developing fetus. Throughout labor, the muscular walls of the corpus contract to help push the baby through the cervix and vagina.
The corpus is lined by a mucous membrane named the endometrium. This membrane responds to reproductive hormones by changing its thickness during each menstrual cycle. If an egg is fertilized, it attaches to the endometrium. If no fertilization occurs, the endometrium sheds its outer layer of cells, which are released during menstruation.
The portion of the uterus within the corpus and the cervix are called the isthmus. This is where the walls of the uterus begin to narrow toward the cervix.
The cervix is the lowest segment of the uterus. It’s lined with a smooth mucous membrane and attaches the uterus to the vagina. Glands in the cervical lining usually produce a thick mucus. However, through ovulation, this shifts thinner to allow sperm to easily pass into the uterus.
The cervix has three main parts:
Endocervix is the inner part of the cervix that leads to the uterus.
The cervical canal links the uterus to the vagina.
Exocervix is the outer part of the cervix that protrudes into the vagina.
During childbirth, the cervix dilates (widens) to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal.
The vagina is a muscular canal with a soft, elastic lining that is approximately 9cm long that provides lubrication and sensation. The vagina attaches the uterus to the outside world. The vulva and labia make the opening, and the cervix of the uterus protrudes into the vagina, making the interior end.
The vagina accepts the penis throughout sexual intercourse and also helps as a conduit for menstrual flow from the uterus. During childbirth, the baby passes within the vagina.
Sexual intercourse – receives the penis and ejaculate, assisting in its transport to the uterus.
Menstruation – works as a canal for menstrual fluid and tissue to leave the body.
Childbirth – increases to render a channel for the birth of a newborn from the uterus.
The vagina is intimately correlated to various of the organs in the pelvic region:
The rectum and anus are posterior to the vagina.
The bladder and urethra are anterior to the vagina.
Laterally positioned are the ureters and uterine arteries.
The female gonads have designated the ovaries. The ovary in the female reproductive system that produces an ovum. While discharging, this goes down the fallopian tube into the uterus, where it may enhance fertilized by a sperm.
Fallopian tubes are narrow tubes that are connected to the upper part of the uterus and work as tunnels for the ova to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Conception, the fertilization of an egg by a sperm, usually happens in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg next moves to the uterus, where it embeds within the lining of the uterine wall.
The ovaries further discharge hormones that perform a role in the menstrual cycle and fertility.
The ovaries are paired, oval organs connected to the posterior surface of the broad ligament of the uterus by the mesovarium.
The ovary has 3 segments;
Cortex: The cortex is the outer part of the ovary. It carries thousands of follicles. Each primordial follicle comprises an oocyte enclosed by a single layer of follicular cells.
Surface: The surface layer of the ovary is made by simple cuboidal epithelium, identified as germinal epithelium.
Medulla: The medulla is the inner part that is composed of supporting stroma and receives a rich neurovascular network which opens the hilum of the ovary from the mesovarium.
The main functions of the ovaries are:
The ovaries produce oocytes (female gametes) in preparation for fertilization.
The ovaries produce the sex steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone, in the response of pituitary gonadotrophins (LH and FSH).