<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=iA1Pi1a8Dy00ym" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="" />
Skip Navigation
Our Terms of Use (click here to view) have changed. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our new Terms of Use.

13.61: Female Reproductive Structures

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
Atoms Practice
Estimated2 minsto complete
Practice Female Reproductive Structures
Estimated2 minsto complete
Practice Now
Turn In

Think producing millions of sperm each day is complicated?

If producing millions of sperm each day, as in the male reproductive system, is complicated, that is nothing compared to what must occur in the female reproductive system. This system is controlled by an intricate dance of hormones, cycles, and events.

Female Reproductive Structures

The female reproductive system consists of structures that produce female gametes called eggs and secrete the female sex hormone estrogen. The female reproductive system has several other functions as well:

  1. It receives sperm during sexual intercourse.
  2. It supports the development of a fetus.
  3. It delivers a baby during birth.
  4. It breast-feeds a baby after birth.

The main structures of the female reproductive system are shown in Figure below. Most of the structures are inside the pelvic region of the body. Locate the structures in the figure as you read about them below. To watch an animation of the female reproductive system, go to this link: http://www.medindia.net/animation/female_reproductive_system.asp.

CC-BY-SA 3.0

Female Reproductive Structures. Organs of the female reproductive system include the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

External Structures

The external female reproductive structures are referred to collectively as the vulva. They include the labia (singular, labium), which are the “lips” of the vulva. The labia protect the vagina and urethra, both of which have openings in the vulva.


The vagina is a tube-like structure about 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) long. It begins at the vulva and extends upward to the uterus. It has muscular walls lined with mucous membranes. The vagina has two major reproductive functions. It receives sperm during sexual intercourse, and it provides a passageway for a baby to leave the mother’s body during birth.


The uterus is a muscular organ shaped like an upside-down pear. It has a thick lining of tissues called the endometrium. The lower, narrower end of the uterus is known as the cervix. The uterus is where a fetus grows and develops until birth. During pregnancy, the uterus can expand greatly to make room for the baby as it grows. During birth, contractions of the muscular walls of the uterus push the baby through the cervix and out of the body.


The two ovaries are small, egg-shaped organs that lie on either side of the uterus. They produce eggs and secrete estrogen. Each egg is located inside a structure called a follicle. Cells in the follicle protect the egg and help it mature.

Fallopian Tubes

Extending from the upper corners of the uterus are the two fallopian tubes. Each tube reaches (but is not attached to) one of the ovaries. The ovary end of the tube has a fringelike structure that moves in waves. The motion sweeps eggs from the ovary into the tube.


The breasts are not directly involved in reproduction, but they nourish a baby after birth. Each breast contains mammary glands, which secrete milk. The milk drains into ducts leading to the nipple. A suckling baby squeezes the milk out of the ducts and through the nipple.


  • The female reproductive system consists of structures that produce eggs and secrete female sex hormones. They also provide a site for fertilization and enable the development and birth of a fetus.
  • Female reproductive structures include the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Practice I

Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Define the vagina, uterus and cervix.
  2. Describe the ovary and ovulation.

Practice II


1. List three general functions of the female reproductive system.

2. Describe the uterus, and state its role in reproduction.

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Show More



Organ that contains mammary glands, which secrete milk.


The lower, narrower end of the uterus.


Tissues lining the uterus; shed from the body during menstruation.


Female sex hormone secreted by the ovaries.

fallopian tube

One of two female reproductive organs that carry eggs from the ovary to the uterus and provide the site where fertilization usually takes place.


Structure in the ovary where eggs mature.


(singular, labium): The lips of the vulva; protects the vagina and urethra, both of which have openings in the vulva.

mammary gland

Gland in female mammals that produces milk for offspring.


Organ where eggs form; characteristic of plants and animals.


(plural, uteri): Female reproductive organ in therian mammals where an embryo or fetus grows and develops until birth.


External female reproductive structures, including the labia and vaginal opening.

Image Attributions

Show Hide Details
Difficulty Level:
At Grade
Date Created:
Feb 24, 2012
Last Modified:
Aug 28, 2016
Files can only be attached to the latest version of Modality
Please wait...
Please wait...
Image Detail
Sizes: Medium | Original