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The female reproductive system has the following functions: To produce eggs (ova) To have sexual intercourse To protect

tect and nourish the fertilized egg until it is fully developed To give birth

The female reproductive system consists of internal and external parts. The internal parts include the following: Ovaries: The primary female reproductive organs, or gonads, are the two ovaries. Each ovary is a solid, ovoid structure about the size and shape of an almond, about 3.5 cm in length, 2 cm wide, and 1 cm thick. The ovaries are located in shallow depressions, called ovarian fossae, one on each side of the uterus, in the lateral walls of the pelvic cavity. These organs are responsible for the production of the ova and the secretion of hormones. Ligaments connect the ovaries to the uterus and the pelvic wall. Ovaries are the place inside the female body where ova or eggs are produced. The process by which the ovum is released is called ovulation. The speed of ovulation is periodic and impacts directly to the length of a menstrual cycle. After ovulation, the ovum is captured by the oviduct, after traveling down the oviduct to the uterus, occasionally being fertilized on its way by an incoming sperm, leading to pregnancy and the eventual birth of a new human being.

Oviducts: There are two uterine tubes, also called Fallopian tubes or oviducts. There is one tube associated with each ovary. The end of the tube near the ovary expands to form a funnel-shaped infundibulum, which is surrounded by fingerlike extensions called fimbriae. Because there is no direct connection between the infundibulum and the ovary, the oocyte enters the peritoneal cavity before it enters the Fallopian tube. The infundibulum opens up into a larger portion of the oviduct known as the ampulla. The isthmus consists of a narrow lumen that connects to the uterus, and this is the last part of the oviduct. At the time of ovulation, the fimbriae increase their activity and create currents in the peritoneal fluid that help propel the oocyte into the Fallopian tube. Once inside the Fallopian tube, the oocyte is moved along by the rhythmic beating of cilia on the epithelial lining and by peristaltic action of the smooth muscle in the wall of the tube. The journey through the Fallopian tube takes about 7 days. Because the oocyte is fertile for only 24 to 48 hours, fertilization usually occurs in the Fallopian tube. Uterus: The uterus or womb is a pear-shaped muscular organ. The uterus receives the fertilized oocyte and provides an appropriate environment for the developing fetus. Before the first pregnancy, the uterus is about the size and shape of a pear, with the narrow portion directed inferiorly. After childbirth, the uterus is usually larger, then regresses after menopause. The uterus has three layers. They are: 1) Endometrium - The lining of the uterine cavity is called the "endometrium."The endometrium builds a lining periodically which is shed or reabsorbed if no pregnancy occurs. 2) Myometrium - The uterus mostly consists of smooth muscle, known as "myometrium." 3) Perimetrium This is the loose connective tissue around the uterus Cervix: The cervix is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top end of the vagina. It is cylindrical or conical in shape and protrudes through the upper anterior vaginal wall. The cervix is also named the neck of the uterus. The cavity of the cervix is known as the cervical canal. Vagina: The vagina is a muscular, hollow tube that extends from the vaginal opening to the uterus. The vagina's muscular walls are lined with mucous membranes, which keep it protected and moist. The vagina has several functions: for sexual intercourse, as the pathway that a baby takes out of a woman's body during childbirth, and as the route for the menstrual blood (the period) to leave the body from the uterus. The vagina connects with the uterus, or womb, at the cervix. _________________________________________________________________________

The external genitalia are the accessory structures of the female reproductive system that are external to the vagina. These external genitalia are also referred to as the vulva or pudendum. They consist of the following: Mons Pubis The soft mound at the front of the vulva is formed by fatty tissue covering the pubic bone, and is called the mons pubis. It is covered by skin and pubic hair. Pudendal Cleft The cleft between the labia majora is called the pudendal cleft and it contains and protects the other, more delicate structures of the vulva. Labia Majora The mons pubis separates into two folds of skin called the labia majora, literally meaning large lips. These lips enfold and protect other genitalia. The labia majora contain sweat and oil-secreting glands. After puberty, they are covered with hair. Labia Minora The labia minora are two soft folds of skin within the labia majora. Labia minora means small lips. The labia minora protect the vagina entrance and urethra opening. The labia minora are well-supplied with blood vessels and nerves, making them highly sensitive, and glands that produce a lubricant during sexual intercourse. Bartholin's glands Bartholins glands are located next to the vaginal opening and produce a fluid secretion to aid with sexual intercourse. Clitoris Located between the labia minora is the finger-like structure known as the clitoris. It includes erectile tissue, glands, muscles and ligaments, nerves and blood vessels. Although the parts are placed differently, the clitoris is a match to the male penis, both growing from the same tissue in the womb and bearing many similar parts. Most of the clitoris is hidden inside the body. Only a small part of it is seen outside the body. The hymen is a membrane-like tissue that surrounds or partially covers the external vaginal opening. The hymen will rupture during the first episode of sexual intercourse. However, the hymen may also rupture spontaneously during exercise such as horseback riding, or be stretched by normal activities such as the use of tampon. Some women are born without a hymen and in certain cases, the hymen remains intact even after sexual intercourse. The presence or absence of a hymen is not a reliable indicator of a womens virginity.

Mammary Gland:

A mammary gland is an organ in female mammals that produces milk to feed young offspring. Mammals get their name from the word "mammary." In humans, the mammary glands are situated in the breasts. Within each breast, the glandular tissue is divided into 15 to 20 mammary lobes that contain cell clusters known as the alveoli. The basic components of a mature mammary gland are the alveoli, which are hollow cavities a few millimeters large. The cells of the alveoli secrete milk that is stored in their cavities. These alveoli join to form groups known as lobules. The alveoli open into mammary tubules, and the alveoli of each lobe combines to create a mammary duct. Each lobule has a lactiferous duct that drains into openings in the nipple. The myoepithelial cells can contract, similar to muscle cells, and thereby push the milk from the alveoli through the lactiferous ducts towards the nipple, where it collects in widenings (sinuses) of the ducts. A suckling baby essentially squeezes the milk out of these sinuses. Oogenesis:

Oogenesis is the creation of an ovum or egg cell. It is the female form of gametogenesis. It involves the development of the various stages of the immature ovum. In females, meiosis occurs in cells known as oogonia. Each oogonium that initiates meiosis will divide twice to form a single oocyte and three polar bodies. Oogenesis starts during the embryonic development stage. At this stage, a few million gamete mother cells or oogonia form in each fetal ovary. After birth, no more oogonia are formed and added. When these cells start to divide, they enter into prophase-I of meiotic division where they differentiate into primary oocytes. A layer of granulose cells surrounds the primary oocyte, transforming it into a primary follicle. Most of these follicles degenerate from birth until puberty, and at the time of puberty, each ovary contains only between 60,000 and 80,000 primary follicles. More layers of granulose cells and a theca cover the primary follicles, transforming them into secondary follicles. The secondary follicle develops a fluid filled cavity known as the antrum, transforming it into a tertiary follicle. The theca layer gets organized into an outer theca externa and an inner theca interna, during which the primary oocyte inside the tertiary follicle enlarges and finally completes its initial meiotic division. The division is unequal, which results in the formation of a small first polar body and a haploid secondary oocyte. The secondary oocyte contains most of the nutrient-rich cytoplasm of the primary oocyte. The tertiary follicle then transforms into the Graafian follicle or mature follicle. This is covered by a membrane called the zona pellucida which is formed from the secondary oocyte. When ovulation takes place, the Graafian follicle ruptures to release the ovum (secondary oocyte) from the ovary. The Menstrual Cycle:

The menstrual cycle is the scientific term for the physiological changes that occur in fertile women and other female primates for the purposes of sexual reproduction. During the menstrual cycle, changes occur in the female reproductive system as well as other systems. A womans first menstruation is called menarche, and it typically occurs around ages 12 or 13. The average human menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but it can range from 21 to 35 days. It is controlled by hormones. The period between one menstruation and the next one is known as the menstrual cycle.

During the middle of each menstrual cycle, a single ovum is released (ovulation). The first part of the menstrual cycle is the menstrual phase during which menstrual flow takes place, lasting anywhere between 3 and 5 days. Menstrual flow occurs because the endometrial lining of the uterus and its blood vessels breaks down, forming the liquid that is disposed through the vagina. Only when the released ovum remains unfertilized does menstruation occur. Though a womans lack of menstruation might be an indicator that she is pregnant, other reasons might include bad health, stress, and so on. The follicular phase follows the menstrual phase, during which the primary follicles in the ovary develop into mature Graafian follicles. At the same time, the endometrium of the uterus is regenerated through proliferation. Changes in the levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones are responsible for the changes in the ovary and the uterus. Throughout the follicular phase, the secretion of gonadotropins (LH and FSH) steadily increases. This stimulates the development of follicles and the secretion of estrogens by growing follicles. Around the 14th day, which is usually the middle of the cycle, both LH and FSH attain a peak level. During the middle of the cycle, a phenomenon called LH surge takes place wherein there is a LH is secreted so rapidly that it reaches its maximum level. This in turn causes the Graafian follicle to rupture, thus releasing the ovum. This is called ovulation. After the ovulatory phase comes the luteal phase, during which the remaining parts of the Graafian follicle change into the corpus luteum. In order for the endometrium to stay functional, a huge amount of progesterone is secreted by this corpus luteum. This endometrium is essential for successful implantation of the fertilized ovum, as well as for other stages during pregnancy. Menstruation does not occur during pregnancy, and the menstrual cycle comes to a halt. If there is no fertilization however, there is a degeneration of the corpus luteum. This causes the endometrium to dissolve, restarting the new menstrual cycle altogether. When the human female reaches around 50 years, the menstrual cycle comes stops. This is called menopause. In between menarche and menopause, the menstrual cycle indicates that the reproductive phase is functioning accordingly. ________________________________________________________________________________--

Fertilisation and Implantation:

When sexual intercourse (coitus) takes place, the penis releases sperm into the vagina. This process is known as insemination. The locomotive sperm then swim past the cervix into the uterus, finally reaching the ampullary-isthmic junction, of the fallopian tube where the ampulla intersects the isthmus. The ovary releases the ovum, which is also carried to the ampullary-isthmis junction. It is in the ampullary-isthmic junction that fertilization occurs. Only when the ovum and sperms are transported simultaneously to this junction will fertilization take place, which is why sexual intercourse alone is not a guarantee that the female will become pregnant. Fertilization can be defined as the union of an ovum with a sperm. When fertilization occurs, a sperm makes contact with a layer of the ovum known as the zona pellucida. During this contact, the sperm causes the membrane to change so that other sperm will be blocked from entering, to ensure that the ovum can only be fertilized by one sperm. The acrosome produces secretions that aid the sperm pass through the zona pellucida and the plasma membrane into the cytoplasm of the ovum. This completes the secondary oocytes meiotic division. Another unequal meiotic division occurs, resulting in the formation of a second polar body and a haploid ovum (also known as an ootid). After this happens, a diploid zygote is formed by the fusion of the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum. It is at this stage that the sex of the baby has been determined. The chromosome pattern in the human male is XY, whereas the chromosome pattern in the human female is XX. This means that all the haploid gametes produced by the ova will bear the X chromosome, whereas those produced by the sperms will bear either X or Y chromosome. In other words, 50 percent of

sperms will carry the X chromosome, while the other 50 percent will carry the Y chromosome. Depending on whether the sperm that fertilized the ovum was carrying X or Y, after fusion of the male and female gametes, the zygote will bear either an XX (female) or XY (female) pattern. If it is XX, the female will bear a female baby. If it is XY, the female will bear a male baby. Mitotic division starts to take place when the zygote moves towards the uterus through the isthmus of the oviduct called cleavage. As it moves, it forms bastomeres, which are 2, 4, 8, 16 daughter cells. When the embryo forms 8 to 16 blastomeres, it is known as a morula. As this morula moves deeper into the uterus, it continues to divide until it forms a blastocyst. An outer layer called the trophoblast is formed from the blastomeres in the blastocyst. An inner group of cells attach to the trophoblast, and these are called the inner cell mass. After this, the trophoblast layer attaches to the endometrium while the inner cell mass gets divided into the embryo. After the attachment has taken place, the uterine cells rapidly divide to cover the blastocyst. This causes the blastocyst to become embedded in the endometrium of the uterus. This process is known as implantation and it leads to pregnancy in women.

Pregnancy and Embryonic Development:

After implantation has taken place, the trophoblast starts to develop finger-like projections surrounded by maternal blood and uterine tissue. These are known as chrionic villi. The chrionic villi and uterine tissue interlock to form the placenta. The placenta acts as a joint functional unit between the maternal body and the foetus. Some of its functions include supplying the embryo with oxygen and nutrients. It is also responsible for removing carbon dioxide and waste produced by the embryo. An umbilical cord connects the embryo to the placenta. The umbilical cord helps in the transportation of substances to and from the embryo. In addition to acting as an endocrine tissue, the placenta produces several hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), human placental lactogen (hPL), estrogens, progestogens, and so on. A hormone called relaxin is produced by the ovary towards the latter phase of pregnancy. It should be noted hCG, hPL and relaxin are produced in women only during the time of pregnancy, while other hormones that are already existing such as estrogens, progestogens etc are increased. These hormones are increased because of the following reasons: So the foetus can develop properly. So metabolic changes can take place in the mother. To maintain pregnancy.

After implantation, the inner cell mass (embryoblast) segregates into two layers: the outer layer is called the ectoderm, while the inner layer is the endoderm. Between them forms the mesoderm. Together, these three layers give rise to all of the organs in the human body. The embryoblast contains stem cells, or special cells that can be used to grow all of the bodys tissues and organs. Human pregnancy lasts for 9 months. After one month, the embryos heart is formed. After two months, the fetus develops limbs and digits. After 12 weeks, most of the bodys major organs are formed. Within five months, hair forms on the head and the fetus begins to move. After 24 weeks, the eyelashes form, the body is covered in fine hairs, and the eyelids separate. After nine months, the fetus is fully formed. The fetus is expelled from the female body through rapid contractions leading through expulsion through the birth canal, a process known as parturition. It is initiated by the fully-formed fetus and the placenta, which begin with mild contractions called the fetal ejection reflex. These increase in potency with the release of oxytocin. During pregnancy, the mammary glands differentiate and the female starts producing milk. This process is called lactation. The first milk, which is called colostrums, is the most important for the fetus as it has anti-bodies that help build immunity.