Female Reproductive System



The female reproductive system is made up of the following organs: ovaries, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes (also called uterine tubes), vagina, external genitalia (labia and clitoris), and mammary glands. Oogenesis, the formation of eggs, begins during fetal development and includes the formation of oocytes, which are cells that will develop into mature ova, or eggs. Folliculogenesis is the maturation of an ovarian follicle, which is the structure that houses the oocyte inside the ovary. The ovarian cycle is the production of an egg in the ovary each month. The uterine cycle is a series of changes in the uterine lining in response to hormones. These two cycles regulate a woman's fertility. Hormones regulate two major changes in a woman's life: puberty and menopause. Puberty is when breasts develop, pubic hair grows, and menstruation begins. Menopause is when ovulation and menstruation end. Pregnancy occurs over three trimesters and lasts about 40 weeks, ending in childbirth, which occurs in three stages.

At A Glance

  • The organs that make up the female reproductive system are ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina, external genitalia, and mammary glands. Its main purpose is to produce eggs, receive sperm for fertilization, grow a fetus, give birth, and provide offspring with nutrients.
  • Oogenesis is meiosis in females; each oogonium, a diploid precursor cell, results in the production of one haploid egg, or ovum, and three polar bodies.
  • Folliculogenesis is the process through which the ovarian follicle matures and is the production of the follicle that surrounds the oogonium. Oocytogenesis (mitosis) and ootidogenesis (meiosis I through metaphase of meiosis II) occur within the ovarian follicle.
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone, and estradiol fluctuate to regulate the ovarian and uterine cycles.
  • Puberty, the maturation of genital organs, the development of secondary sexual characteristics, and the beginning of menstruation, begins with an increase of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
  • The physiology of intercourse involves four stages—excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
  • Hormones, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), progesterone, and estrogen, play important roles in pregnancy and can also affect the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, urinary, and integumentary systems.
  • Childbirth consists of three stages—dilation, delivery, and placental—that are controlled by a positive feedback system including the hormones progesterone, estrogen, relaxin, and oxytocin.
  • Menopause is when ovulation and menstruation stop. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels increase while estrogen and progesterone levels decrease.