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Female Reproductive Structures

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Female Reproductive Structures

Where are the female reproductive organs?

Unlike the male reproductive organs, much of the female reproductive organs are internal. This allows them to be well-protected by the body.

Female Reproductive Organs

The female reproductive organs include the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries ( Figure below ). The breasts are not shown in this figure. They are not considered reproductive organs, even though they are involved in reproduction. They contain mammary glands that give milk to feed a baby. The milk leaves the breast through the nipple when the baby sucks on it.

This drawing shows the organs of the female reproductive system. It shows the organs from the side. Find each organ in the drawing as you read about it in the text.

  • The vagina is a cylinder-shaped organ found inside of the female body. One end of the vagina opens at the outside of the body. The other end joins with the uterus. During sexual intercourse, sperm may be released into the vagina. If this occurs, the sperm will move through the vagina and into the uterus. During birth, a baby passes from the uterus to the vagina to leave the body.
  • The uterus is a hollow organ with muscular walls. The part that connects the vagina with the uterus is called the cervix . The uterus is where a baby develops until birth. The walls of the uterus grow bigger as the baby grows. The muscular walls of the uterus push the baby out during birth.
  • The two ovaries are small, oval organs on either side of the uterus. Each ovary contains thousands of eggs, with about 1-2 million immature eggs present at birth and 40,000 immature eggs present at puberty, as most of the eggs die off. The eggs do not fully develop until a female has gone through puberty. About once a month, on average one egg completes development and is released by the ovary. The ovaries also secrete estrogen , the main female sex hormone.
  • The two fallopian tubes are narrow tubes that open off from the uterus. Each tube reaches for one of the ovaries, but the tubes are not attached to the ovaries. The end of each fallopian tube by the ovary has “fingers” ( Figure above ). They sweep an egg into the fallopian tube. Then the egg passes through the fallopian tube to the uterus. If an egg is to be fertilized, this will occur in the fallopian tube. A fertilized egg then implants into the wall of the uterus, where it begins to develop. An unfertilized egg will flow through the uterus and be excreted from the body.

Vocabulary

  • cervix : Lower, narrower end of the uterus that connects with the vagina.
  • estrogen : Main sex hormone in females.
  • fallopian tube : Female reproductive organ that carries eggs from the ovary to the uterus.
  • ovary : Female reproductive organ in which eggs form.
  • uterus : Female reproductive organ in which the baby develops until birth.
  • vagina : Female reproductive organ that receives sperm during sexual intercourse and provides a passageway for a baby to leave the mother’s body during birth.

Summary

  • Female reproductive organs include the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
  • The ovaries release the eggs and secrete estrogen.

Practice

Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is the vagina?
  2. What is a fallopian tube? What commonly takes place here?
  3. What are the functions of the ovaries?

Review

  1. What are the functions of the ovaries in female reproduction?
  2. What are the functions of the uterus in female reproduction?
  3. What are the fallopian tubes? What may happen in the fallopian tube?

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