The female reproductive system is among the essential parts of the human reproductive system. The external and internal sex organs comprise the female reproductive system. In humans, the female genitalia matures at puberty to create gametes and carry a foetus to term.
The female reproductive organs that create and maintain the female sex cells move these cells to a location where they can be fertilised by sperm, create a favourable environment for the growing foetus, remove the foetus from the body once it has developed fully, and produce the female sex hormones. Additionally, the female reproductive system produces female hormones that sustain the reproductive cycle.
The vulva comprises all the external female organs and tissues, including the pudendal cleft, mons pubis, labia minora, labia majora, Skene’s Gland, Bartholin’s glands, urethra, clitoris, and opening of the vagina.
The primary female internal reproductive organs include the following:
The vagina is a fibromuscular canal that connects the cervix of the uterus or womb to the outside of the body. It is also termed the birth canal during pregnancy.
The cervix is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus neck, where it connects with the upper part of the vagina.
The uterus (womb) is the primary reproductive organ in females. The uterus provides nutritional support, mechanical protection, and removal of waste for the developing embryo (1-8 weeks) and foetus (9 weeks-until birth). In addition, the contraction of the muscular wall of the uterus is essential to push the foetus out during birth.
These are two tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus. As the egg matures, the follicle and ovarian walls rupture, enabling the egg to exit and approach the fallopian tube. There it moves towards the uterus and is propelled by the movement of cilia in the lining of the fallopian tubes.
The ovaries are small, oval-formed glands located on both facets of the uterus. The ovaries produce egg cells (ova or oocytes) and hormones.
The egg cells are then moved to the fallopian tube, where it is fertilised by sperm. The fertilised egg then travels to the uterus, where the lining of the uterus thickens due to the normal hormones of the reproductive cycle. Once in the uterus, the fertilised egg implants in the thickened lining and continues to develop. If implantation does not occur, the endometrium is shed as menstruation.
Chromosomal characteristics establish the genetic traits of the foetus at conception. This is explicitly based on the 23rd chromosome pair being inherited. The male determines the sex of the foetus because the egg cells from the mother contain an X chromosome, and the sperm from the father has either an X or a Y chromosome.
Without the Y chromosome, the embryo develops female gonads (ovaries) that produce the female hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen, in turn, leads to the formation of other organs in the standard female reproductive system. In this case, the Müllerian duct develops into the female genitalia. The clitoris is a remnant of the Wolff tube.
On the other hand, if the foetus inherits the Y chromosome from its father, it will be male. The presence of testosterone stimulates the Wolffian ducts, which trigger the development of the male genitalia and the dissolution of the Müllerian ducts.
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