Reproductive System - Female

Female Reproductive SystemThe Female Reproductive system is located in the pelvis area of the body and consists of ovaries, sex organs, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina and external genitals or vulva.. The Female pelvis is shallower than the male and the inlet of the pelvis is rounder and wider than the male. The female sacrum is also wider and shorter than the male. All these differences play a important role in child bearing.

There are two ovaries one on each side of the uterus. They are connected to the uterus by Fallopian tubes. The ovaries produce eggs or ova and at birth itself they have a more than required life time supply of eggs i.e. 2 million immature eggs. Every month between puberty and menopause, one mature egg is released. The ovaries also produce female sex hormones Estrogen and Progesterone. These hormones control the menstrual cycle as well as maintain the female sex characteristics.

Menstrual and Ovarian Cycles:  The ovarian cycle is responsible for the release of the egg from the ovary and the menstrual cycle for the preparation of the uterus to receive the egg should it get fertilized. Both these cycles last usually for 28 days every month. Ovulation i.e. bursting of the follicle to release its egg in the uterine tube is controlled by a hormone produced by the pituitary gland Luteinizing Hormone or LH. Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH on the other hand is responsible for the previous to this event i.e. it stimulates the growth of immature eggs. When one of them grows more than the others LH starts its work. If this egg is not fertilized, a new ovarian cycle starts after 14 days of ovulation. Menstrual cycle causes a thickening of the uterine wall i.e. Endometrium so that it can receive the fertilized egg. Estrogen and Progesterone, both help in this thickening process. In case of absence of fertilization, the levels drop causing the fall of endometrium.

     Uterus protects the fetus during its growth. The wall of the uterus has a thick muscle layer called Myometrium, which stretches during pregnancy and contracts to help push the baby out at the time of delivery.

     The uterus is connected to the vagina by Cervix. Vagina is a muscular tube of 8-10 cms. length and accommodates the penis during intercourse and acts as a route for the baby to come out at birth.

External genitalia or Vulva consists of Vaginal Lips:  Labia Majora and Labia Minora. They protect the vulva. Clitoris is like penis in males. It is important for sexual arousal.

Development of External Genitalia:  At six weeks after fertilization, the external genitals are identical in both males and females. If the embryo has XY chromosome it becomes Male and if XX it becomes Female. In males the Y chromosome is responsible for the development of Testes, which produces testosterone, which develop the external genitals into penis and scrotum. In the absence of this Y chromosome, Clitoris develops instead of Penis and Labia instead of Scrotum. The child's sex can be easily differentiated at 12 weeks after fertilization.