The female reproductive system consists of the female sex organs, the two most important of which are the uterus and the ovary. The female reproductive organ has many responsibilities that include the reception of sperm and support for a developing fetus during and post-birth. The female reproductive system develops before birth but doesn’t reach maturity until puberty. From puberty until around midlife, females will have a monthly menstrual cycle that will allow the female to have a child when an egg cell is fertilized by a sperm cell. When a woman reaches midlife, she undergoes menopause, meaning she will enter a non-reproductive state.
Reproductive System: The system of organs that produces gametes and secretes sex hormones.
Vulva: The external female reproductive organs.
Vagina: A mucous-lined muscular tract leading from the vulva to the uterus.
Uterus: Female sex organ where the fetus develops. Contraction of the uterus leads to childbirth.
Endometrium: The inner lining of the uterus.
Ovaries: Two egg-producing sex organs located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries also include endocrine glands that secrete estrogen.
Estrogen: Female sex hormone.
Follicle: Structure that houses and protects a maturing egg cell.
Fallopian Tubes: Two tubes that extend from the upper right and left corners of the uterus to the ovaries.
Oogenesis: The production of an egg cell.
Oogonium: A diploid reproductive cell that will undergo mitosis to produce primary oocytes.
Primary Oocyte: A diploid daughter cell that will begin but not complete meiosis during fetal development.
Ovulation: The release of the secondary oocyte from its follicle and from the ovary. The secondary oocyte will travel down the fallopian tube into the uterus.
Puberty: Period during which humans become sexually mature.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH): Pituitary gland hormone that stimulates the testes to secrete testosterone and the ovaries to secrete estrogen
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): Pituitary gland hormone that stimulates the ovaries to secrete estrogen and follicles in the ovaries to mature.
Adolescent Growth Spurt: Period of rapid growth that occurs during puberty.
Menstrual Cycle: The physiological changes that occur monthly in non-pregnant, fertile females.
Menarche: The first menstrual cycle.
Menstruation: The shedding of the endometrium from the uterine wall.
Menopause: The transition from fertile to non-reproductive that occurs around midlife in women.
Main structures of the female reproductive system:
The breasts are also a part of the female reproductive system. The breasts are not involved in reproduction, but they do nourish a baby after birth. The breasts contain mammary glands that secrete milk.