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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

I don't understand please
Esther Reply
hey
Austine
good evening boss
Austine
Evening
Esther
good evening
Melissa
evening
Vitus
hi
Rodgers
good morning
Aurelia
hello
Helsa
you guys are from ?
Aurelia
Philippines
Helsa
hi Gays
Ihsan
im from india
Aurelia
Hello
Amos
why
Sami
wat
Rodgers
what's that
Gift
what's the medulla?
alhussiney Reply
The medulla oblongata or simply medulla is a long stem-like structure which makes up the lower part of the brainstem. It is anterior and partially inferior to the cerebellum
Ludmila
define bone in simple terms
Mhoses Reply
bones are made up by collagen and calcium phosphate
Aurelia
yes
Confidence
Bones are the hard large calcareous connective tissue of which the adult skeleton of most vertebrates is chiefly composed
Olalekan
Bone is the substance that forms skeleton
Frances
good morning
Mrinal
Skelton muscles is any disorder of calcium
Mrinal
Bones protect the various organs of the body
Celina
Bone is a hard strong and durable type of connective tissue
Bkv
bone is a hard, calcareous connective tissue which gives structural support to the body and helpless in its locomotion!
Divya
It also is the main site for synthesis of the RBCs
Divya
A diagram of epithelial tissue
Emmanuel Reply
What does the urinary regulate blood pressure
Jennifer Reply
functions of melatonin
marion Reply
d. inversely proportional
John Reply
Airway resistance in the human lung is? a. Greatest in the generation of distal bronchioles in healthy people because these airways have the smallest radii b. Not increased during a forced expiration in a healthy subject c. Decreased when breathing through the mouth d. Inversely proportional
Maryam Reply
1. Chemical level 2. Cellular level 3.Tissue level 4. Organ level 5.Organ system level 5.Organismal level
Jamela Reply
d
HMD
High
HMD
why there is bleeding in menstruation?
KUHELI Reply
menopause
Vasu
no
KUHELI
no one ready to help me
Maryam
skin
The following hormones increase the blood glucose level except_____________? a. Parathormone b. Growth Hormone c. Epinephrine d. Thyroxine
Maryam
c.epinephrine
Divya
Which of the following is NOT a characteristic feature of alveoli in the lung? a. Poor blood supply b. A large surface area c. Thin walls d. Chemical layer called surfactant
Maryam
a.poor blood supply
Divya
poor blood supply
Tanvi
Excess of cortisol causes______________? a. Acromegaly b. Conn’s syndrome c. Diabetes insipidus d. Cushing syndrome
Maryam
plz fast
Maryam
cushing syndrome
Tanvi
thank you
Maryam
Airway resistance in the human lung is? a. Greatest in the generation of distal bronchioles in healthy people because these airways have the smallest radii b. Not increased during a forced expiration in a healthy subject c. Decreased when breathing through the mouth d. Inversely proportional
Maryam
what happens to the brain when one cannot sleep
aghedo
name temporary endocrine gland in female.
KUHELI Reply
when does 1st meiotic division occur in male ?
KUHELI Reply
spermatogenesis
Vasu
) Which of the following best describes the human body's defense mechanism against environmental bacteria?
Homeostasis
Zeinab
What the answer plz
Zeinab
skin
KUHELI
Kuheli but I think skin is an organ not defence mechanism
Zeinab
Homeostasis is the system responsible for body response to external changes
Eliaz
skin
skin
Kharim
what is an inflammation
Lodrick Reply
it's a reaction from a body tissue
Perpenjeng
is the body own mechanism of fighting against disease especially infections or injuries.
Azapa
Inflammation is a tissue response to damage tissues
Zeinab
The following hormones increase the blood glucose level except_____________? a. Parathormone b. Growth Hormone c. Epinephrine d. Thyroxine
Maryam
which cells are responsible for bone formation?
Richard Reply
osteocytes
Sharon
Oestocytes
Zeinab
osteocytes
Vasu
The following hormones increase the blood glucose level except_____________? a. Parathormone b. Growth Hormone c. Epinephrine d. Thyroxine
Maryam

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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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