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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.


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

where can we find the short bones
Chidi Reply
Carpal bones are examples of short bones
what is blood supply
during pregnancy which would more increase size the mothers abdominal or pelvic cavity?
Nurmalyn Reply
define the main directional terms of the body
cris Reply
during physical exercise respiratory rate increace two student are discussing the mechanisms involved. student A claim they are positive feedback and student B claim negative feedback do you agree with student A or B and why
what is the physiology of circulation
please I mean the physiology of criculation
blood flow refers to the movement of blood through the vessels from arteries to the capillaries and then to the veins
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
cris Reply
list and define the three plane of devision of the body
complete the following statements using correct directional terms for human being. 1. the navel is________to the nose 2. the heart is______to the breastbone(sternum) 3 the ankle is______to the knee 4 the ear is______to the eyes.
1. superior 2. posterior 3. superior 4. lateral
anterior fuerior
name the system of the body and its function
cris Reply
11 system are human body 1.integumentary system 2. skeletal system 3. muscular system 4. nervous system 5. endocrine system 6. cardiovascular system 7. lymphatic system 8. respiratory system 9. digestive system 10. urinary system 11. reproductive system male and female.
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
how the body maintain hormeostasis in terms of bloodglucose level
cris Reply
It releases hormones from the pancreas insulin and glucagon
why human blood pressure high
amin Reply
fear, anxiety, sickness
why in mothers womb the foetus head is in anus direction?
As it seems the position downside n if we did such position thn soon we got vomiting then how foetus stay in downward position long time?
What is red blood cell
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Checking the number of red blood cells in the blood is usually part of a complete blood cell (CBC) test. It
red blood cell are the most numerous blood cells.they comprise about 99% of all blood cells red blood cells are non nucleated it has red colour due to present to hemoglobin.
Thanks for the answers
how will you promote quality of life in ptb patient using the 14 basic needs and 21 nursing problems?
rOx Reply
coronary circulation ?
Juri Reply
Coronary circulation is the circulation of blood in the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle (myocardium). Coronary arteries supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle, and cardiac veins drain away the blood once it has been deoxygenated. Because the rest of the body.
coronary circulation ,is flow of blood that supplies the heart tissue itself is the coronary circulation. the functional blood supply of the heart,is the shortest circulation in tha body.
what about the easy way to understand action potential
event of cardiac cycle
Juri Reply
kaso Reply
anatomy is the scientific way of studying the body structure.
the branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals, and other living organisms, especially as revealed by dissection and the separation of parts.
what is means by LAPE and HAPE
what is respiratory rate
guys i've question what occur when homeostasis balance mechanisms lost
cris Reply
Bladder is blank to the small intestine, what is the right directional term for that?
Julaika Reply
When peristaltic movement is correct.
what tissue that support body organ?
Sabrina Reply
the skeleton

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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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