Female Reproductive System
The reproductive systems of both males and females are essential for any species to reproduce and survive. Most species have both male and female sexes which have different functions, but generally serve the same purpose, which is reproduction. In humans, the female reproductive system is located in the pelvis. It has two main parts; the uterus and the ovaries. The uterus is responsible for housing the fetus and producing vaginal and uterine secretions, whereas the ovaries is the part responsible for producing egg cells.
The external part of the female reproductive system is called the vulva, which covers the vaginal opening. Located right on top of the vaginal opening is the mons pubis, followed by two flaps called the labia, which surrounds the opening. In front of the vulva, on the part where the labia joins, is the clitoris. The clitoris is a sensory organ, which is the main pleasure centre of the female reproductive system. Located in between the labia is the urethra, which is mainly responsible for releasing the urine from the bladder.
The internal part of the female reproductive organ contains the vagina, the uterus, the ovaries, and the fallopian tubes. The vagina is three to five inches long in adult females and can expand and contract during pregnancy. During birth, the baby comes out of the vagina. It is also used for sexual intercourse and as an exit for menstrual blood during a woman’s monthly period. Inside the vagina is the hymen, a sheet of tissue containing several holes. The hymen can be stretched and torn depending on the number of times of sexual intercourse.
The cervix is what attaches the uterus to the vagina, and the fallopian tubes attach the uterus to the ovaries. The opening of the cervix is very small; however, during child birth, it expands to allow the baby to pass. The uterus has a thick lining and has perhaps the strongest muscles in the female body as it can expand to accommodate the size of a baby. The average size of the uterus when there is no baby inside is about three inches in length and two inches in width.
The part of the female reproductive system where fertilization occurs is in the oviducts. During sexual intercourse, if a sperm meets up with an egg cell, it will merge with it and cause fertilization, and the result is called a zygote. The zygote is implanted in the walls of the uterus where it will develop as a fetus. Every month, the process of oogenesis sends one ovum down the fallopian tube, expecting to be fertilized. If it is not fertilized, it will come out of the vagina in the form of menstrual blood.
The female reproductive system already contains hundreds of thousands of eggs when a girl is born. These eggs remain inactive until the girl reaches puberty, in which case the pituitary gland will start creating hormones to make the ovaries produce female sex hormones. This process is an indication of a sexually-mature female and it commonly occurs during the teenage years.