Internal Sex Organs Explained
Like the male reproductive system, the primary function of the female reproductive system is to make gametes, the specialized cells that contribute half of the total genetic material of a new person. The female reproductive system has several additional functions: to be the location for joining of the male and female gametes, to protect and nourish the new human during the period of gestation, and to nourish the newborn infant for some time after birth, though lactation and nursing.
These are a woman’s reproductive organs and it consist of the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
- The vagina, the chief female genital, is an internal structure, an elastic muscular passage lying between
- the bladder and
- the rectum. It leads from the vulva upward, and at an angle, to the uterus. It is about 4-5in (10-12.5cm) long and capable of great distension. Normally, the vaginal walls, which are lined with folds or ridges of skin, lie close together. During sexual intercourse, they stretch easily to take the male penis and extend even more considerably during labor to allow a child to be born. The vagina is usually moist because of the secretions produced by the vestibular glands in the labia, though moistness increases with sexual excitement and at varying degree. The continuous secretion of this natural lubrication keeps the vagina clean and free from infection. Thus, it is this self-cleaning capability that makes vaginal douching unnecessary.
- The cervix is the neck or lower part of the uterus. It projects into the upper end of the vagina and can be felt by sliding a finger as far back as possible into the vagina. However, this may not be possible during menstruation or sexual excitement when the uterus changes position.
- The OS, a tiny opening through the cervix at the tip of the cervix, separates the uterus from the vagina. Prior to pregnancy, the external orifice has a rounded shape when viewed through the vaginal canal (as through a speculum). Following childbirth, the orifice takes on an appearance more like a transverse slit or is “H-shaped”, but remains small.
- The entire uterus (including the cervix) is a hollow, muscular, pear-shaped organ. It is about the size of a lemon in its non-pregnant state. Seen from the front, the uterine cavity is triangular in shape and it is here that the fetus develops during pregnancy pushing back the muscular walls in a surprising manner. During labor, the fetus moves from the uterine cavity through the cervix and vagina to the vaginal opening for delivery.
- The endometrium is the mucous membrane lining for the uterus. It prevents adhesions between the opposed walls of the myometrium, thereby maintaining the patency of the uterine cavity. During the menstrual cycle, the endometrium grows to a thick, blood vessel-rich, glandular tissue layer. This represents an optimal environment for the implantation of a blastocyst upon its arrival in the uterus. During pregnancy, the glands and blood vessels in the endometrium increase in size and number. Vascular spaces fuse and become interconnected, forming the placenta, which supplies oxygen and nutrition to the embryo and fetus.
- The Fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, extend outward and back from either side of the upper end of the uterus. They are about 4in (10cm) in length and reach outward toward the ovaries. There are two Fallopian tubes attached to either side of the uterus. Each terminates at or near one ovary forming a structure called the fimbria.
- The ovaries, often found in pairs as part of the vertebrate female reproductive system, are the ovum-producing organ found in female organisms. Ovaries in females are homologous to testes in males. The term gonads refers to the ovaries in females and testes in males. They produce the ova and the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Once a month an ovum is released which floats freely into the end of one of the Fallopian tubes.
Gynecology is the study of women’s diseases with special emphasis on the female reproductive organs. Areas of special concentration for gynecologists include disorders of the uterus, or womb, the organ where an unborn fetus develops; ovaries, the organs that produce ova, or eggs, which are the female sex cells; fallopian tubes, the channels connecting the uterus and ovaries; cervix, the organ that connects the vagina and uterus; vagina, the canal between the cervix and vulva, or external female organs; and breasts.