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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the structure and function of the organs of the female reproductive system
  • List the steps of oogenesis
  • Describe the hormonal changes that occur during the ovarian and menstrual cycles
  • Trace the path of an oocyte from ovary to fertilization

The female reproductive system functions to produce gametes and reproductive hormones, just like the male reproductive system; however, it also has the additional task of supporting the developing fetus and delivering it to the outside world. Unlike its male counterpart, the female reproductive system is located primarily inside the pelvic cavity ( [link] ). Recall that the ovaries are the female gonads. The gamete they produce is called an oocyte    . We’ll discuss the production of oocytes in detail shortly. First, let’s look at some of the structures of the female reproductive system.

Female reproductive system

This figure shows the structure and the different organs in the female reproductive system. The top panel shows the lateral view and the bottom panel shows the anterior view.
The major organs of the female reproductive system are located inside the pelvic cavity.

External female genitals

The external female reproductive structures are referred to collectively as the vulva    ( [link] ). The mons pubis    is a pad of fat that is located at the anterior, over the pubic bone. After puberty, it becomes covered in pubic hair. The labia majora    (labia = “lips”; majora = “larger”) are folds of hair-covered skin that begin just posterior to the mons pubis. The thinner and more pigmented labia minora    (labia = “lips”; minora = “smaller”) extend medial to the labia majora. Although they naturally vary in shape and size from woman to woman, the labia minora serve to protect the female urethra and the entrance to the female reproductive tract.

The superior, anterior portions of the labia minora come together to encircle the clitoris    (or glans clitoris), an organ that originates from the same cells as the glans penis and has abundant nerves that make it important in sexual sensation and orgasm. The hymen    is a thin membrane that sometimes partially covers the entrance to the vagina. An intact hymen cannot be used as an indication of “virginity”; even at birth, this is only a partial membrane, as menstrual fluid and other secretions must be able to exit the body, regardless of penile–vaginal intercourse. The vaginal opening is located between the opening of the urethra and the anus. It is flanked by outlets to the Bartholin’s glands    (or greater vestibular glands).

The vulva

This figure shows the parts of the vulva. The right panel shows the external anterior view and the left panel shows the internal anteriolateral view. The major parts are labeled.
The external female genitalia are referred to collectively as the vulva.

Vagina

The vagina    , shown at the bottom of [link] and [link] , is a muscular canal (approximately 10 cm long) that serves as the entrance to the reproductive tract. It also serves as the exit from the uterus during menses and childbirth. The outer walls of the anterior and posterior vagina are formed into longitudinal columns, or ridges, and the superior portion of the vagina—called the fornix—meets the protruding uterine cervix. The walls of the vagina are lined with an outer, fibrous adventitia; a middle layer of smooth muscle; and an inner mucous membrane with transverse folds called rugae    . Together, the middle and inner layers allow the expansion of the vagina to accommodate intercourse and childbirth. The thin, perforated hymen can partially surround the opening to the vaginal orifice. The hymen can be ruptured with strenuous physical exercise, penile–vaginal intercourse, and childbirth. The Bartholin’s glands and the lesser vestibular glands (located near the clitoris) secrete mucus, which keeps the vestibular area moist.

Questions & Answers

what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
Mercy
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
Enada
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
Manisha
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
Manisha
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Ariete
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
Ariete
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
Sneha
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
said
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me
okolie
name the joint present between epichysif and diachysif
JAYKISHAN Reply
what is arteries
JAYKISHAN
oxygenated blood carrying vessels
Karanpreet
I think oxygenated blood carrying pulmonary vein
Omaryare
ya this stetment is right 4 pulmonary vein carrying the oxygenated blood
Sneha
What is the relation between cold and clammy skin and disorders that cause poor perfusion?
Tyrone Reply
name the instruments used to measure the gas volume and flow in pulmonary function test
Preethi Reply
Spirometer
Ravi
In a spirometry test, While you are sitting, you breath into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer . The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air that you breath in and out over a period of time. When standing, Some numbers might be slightly different.
Ravi
tq soo much
Preethi
u most wlcm
Ravi
what is signal transduction?
Bahle
Signal Transduction (Also know as cell signaling) is the transmission of molecular signal from a cell exterior to its interior.Signals receive by cells must be transmitted effectively into the cell to ensure an appropriate response. This step is initiated by cell - surface receptors.
Ravi
i know now didn't know
Cypline
that's great respond
Feng
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma Reply
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma
the study of form of structure seen under the microscope
Metinah
is the branch of biology which studies the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues.
Jeffrey
it's the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues in the plants and it's carried out by examining a thin slice of tissues under a microscope light / or an electronic microscope
Manisha
is the study of anatomy in a microscopic level
simon
thank you
Thelma
what are the significance differrences can be donated between the female and male skeleton..
charles
What is Ions and Ionic bonds
Ravi Reply
2 less stable atoms
Hope
Ionic bonding is the complete transfer of valence electron(s) between atoms. It is a type of chemical bond that generates two oppositely charged ions. In ionic bonds, the metal loses electrons to become a positively charged cation, whereas the nonmetal accepts those electrons to become a negatively
Hope
what is osmosis
Brown Reply
it's out Body Fluid.
Sa
high pressure to low pressure flow
Sneha
Osmosis is the movement of solvent from a region of lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration through a semi- permeable membrane.
Ravi
how many types of tissue
ABBAKARR Reply
4, that is muscle tissue, connective, nerve and epithelial tissue
Mapesho
We have four types of tissue these are ,epithelial tissue,nerve tissue,muscle tissue and connective tissue
Samboat
function of labia minora
temba
why is a graph of plasma [glucose] superimposed
Sefai Reply
what is biosphere
Jenessa Reply
supporting life
Diana
it is the part of the earth and its atmosphere capable of supporting life
Diana
what is the function of villus?
Grant Reply
absorption of nutrients
SELTON
They have a large surface area so there will be more efficient absorption of fatty acids and glycerol into the blood stream.
moribo
what is the relationship between heart and lungs
Prisca
when blood inter the rihgt ventricle the blood is inpure through the pumps blood rich the luns there blood exchange pure
Sneha
blood ( inpure blood exchange in to pure blood
Sneha
I don't understand what these messages are about.
Daniel
I gave you all the information I could think of. What is next?
Daniel

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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