The female reproductive system is the organ that is designed to perform several functions. The female eggs called as ova or oocytes are produced by thee female productive system. The main function is to transport the ova to the site of fertilization. Fertilization of an egg with sperm occurs in fallopian tubes. This fertilization is known as conception.
Later this fertilized egg is implanted into the walls of uterus which is the initial stage of pregnancy. Unfertilized eggs in the female reproductive system undergo menstruation. The female sex hormones are also produced by this system which helps in regulating the reproductive cycle.
The female reproductive anatomy is divided into two parts: the external part, the internal part. The function of the external female reproductive structure called the genitals is for two reasons: (i) To allow the sperm enter the body and (ii) to protect the internal part from infectious organisms. The external parts of female reproductive system are:
Labia Majora: The main function of labia majora is to enclose and protect the other external parts of reproductive system. They appear as large and fleshy which are compared to scrotum in males. The labia majora consists of sweat and oil-secreting glands. After puberty, the labia majora are covered with hair.
Labia Minora: This is also known as ‘small lips’ and is either very small or upto 2 inches wide. This is located inside the labia majora and surrounds the openings to vagina and urethra.
Bartholin’s Glands: These are present beside the vaginal opening and they produce a fluid secretion.
Clitoris: This is a small, sensitive protrusion which is compared to penis in males. The two labia minora join at the clitoris. Clitoris is covered by fold of skin known as prepuce which is like foreskin at the end of penis. This is very sensitive to stimulation and can become erect.
The internal reproductive organs are:
Vagina: A canal which joins the cervix to the outer side of the body and is also known as birth canal.
Uterus: The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in which the fetus develops. The uterus is divided into two parts: which is the cervix, the lower part which opens into vagina; the next part is called corpus which is the main body of uterus. The corpus expands accordingly for holding the developing baby. The cervix consists of a channel which allows the sperm to enter and menstrual blood to exit.
Ovaries: A small, oval-shaped glands which are located on the either side of uterus. Eggs and Hormones are produced by ovaries.
Fallopian Tubes: These are the narrow tubes which are attached to the upper part of uterus and it serves as an open tunnel to allow the ova to move from ovaries to uterus. The fertilized egg moves to the uterus and it implants the lining of the uterine wall.
The monthly cycle of changes in the ovaries and the lining of uterus or endometrium is termed as menstrual cycle. This menstrual cycle ceases when the egg is fertilized, and pregnancy begins. The menstrual cycle occurs in two phases: The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle and, The Ovulatory phase of menstrual cycle. The follicular phase is the first day of period. The following events occur during this follicular phase:
Hormones like Follicle stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH), are released from the brain and travel in the blood to the ovaries.
The hormones stimulate the growth of about 15 to 20 eggs in the ovaries which has a separate shell known as follicle.
The FSH and LH also trigger a rise in the production of the female hormone called estrogen.
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