The female reproductive system is located in the pelvic region. Female reproductive system consists of ovaries, oviducts, uterus, cervix, vagina, external genitalia and certain glands. All the parts of female reproductive system can be grouped into two categories: Primary sex organ and Secondary sex organ.
|Primary Sex Organ||Secondary Sex Organ|
Ovaries are the primary female sex organs that produce the female gamete (ovum) and several steroid hormones (Ovarian hormones). The ovaries are located one one each side of the lower abdomen. Each ovary is about 2 to 4 cm in length.
- Each ovary is held in place within peritoneal cavity by several ligaments: ovarian ligament, suspensory ligament and mesovarium.
- Ovary is suspended from the dorsal body wall just behind the kidney by mesovarium.
- Ovary is connected to the uterus by ovarian ligament and connected to lateral pelvic wall by suspensory ligament.
- Structure of ovary consists thin epithelium, tunica albuginea and ovarian stroma.
- Germinal epithelium is the outermost layer of the ovary which is formed of simple squamous and cuboidal cells. It forms oogonia in the foetua.
- Tunica albuginea is poorly differentiated sheath of dense connective tissue that lies below the germinal epithelium and outside the cortex of ovarian stroma.
- Ovarian stroma consist of dense outer layer called cortex and less dense inner portion the medulla.
The Female Accessory Duct System
The duct system in female consists of fallopian tubes, uterus and vagina.
- The Fallopian tubes also known as oviduct, it carry eggs from the ovary to the uterus. It is done by peristalsis.
- Each Fallopian tube is about 10-12 cm long and extends from the ovary to the uterus.
- Oviducts are not attached to ovaries but have a funnel shaped fimbriated opening to receive the eggs as they mature.
- Each Fallopian tubes consists four parts: infundibulum, ampulla and isthmus.
- Infundibulum is a funnel-shaped fimbricated free end of the oviduct. It opens into the body cavity by an aperture called ostium. The edges of the infundibulum have finger-like projections called fimbriae. Infundibulum open into ampulla.
- Ampulla is widest and longest part of fallopian tube.
- Isthamus is short, narrow thick-walled portion that follows the ampulla. Isthamus joins the uterus.
- Each fallopian tube is lined with cilia to help the egg move towards the uterus. If sperms are present, fertilisation takes place in the upper end of the fallopian tubes (Ampulla).
- It is an inverted pear-shaped large part of female reproductive system which is specialised for anchoring and nourishing the developing foetus.
- Uterus is single and is called womb.
- The walls of the uterus are composed of three layers of tissues: perimetrium, myometrium and endometrium.
- The perimetrium is an outer thin covering of peritonium.
- The myometrium is a middle thick layer of smooth muscle fibres which shows strong contraction during delivery of the baby.
- Theendometriumis inner glandular layer that lines the uterine cavity. It is the endometrium that undergoes cyclical changes during menstrual cycle.
- The lower tip of uterus is called the cervix. The cavity of the cervix is called the cervical canal.
- The vagina is a tube, about 10 cm long, that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body.
- It provides a passage for the menstrual flow, and also receive sperm during intercourse.
- The cervical canal along with the vagina is called the birth canal.
- The opening of the vagina is called the vaginal orifice. It is partially covered in virgins by a perforate membrane called hymen.
Question: Presence or absence of hymen is not reliable proof of virginity. Explain why?
Answer: The hymen is often torn during the first coitus (intercourse). However, it can also be broken by a sudden fall or jolt, insertion of a vaginal tampon, active participation in some sports like horse riding, cycling, etc. In some women the hymen persists even after coitus. In fact, the presence or absence of hymen is not a reliable indicator of virginity or sexual experience.
- The female external genitalia include the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora and clitoris.
- Mons pubis is a cushion of fatty tissue covered by skin and pubic hair.
- Labia majora is fleshy folds of skin that extend down from the mons pubis and surround the vaginal opening.
- Labia minora are paired folds of tissue under the labia majora.
- Clitoris is very tiny structure that lies at the upper junction of labia minora, above the urethral opening. It is homologous to the male penis.