Female Reproductive System - Interesting Facts, Function and Conditions
Know your Body

The Female Reproductive System

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 20 Mar 2013 - 18:18

The female reproductive system, like the male, is composed of internal and external reproductive structures (but a bit more complicated like women!).

These structures, anatomically arranged are:

Internal Organs

  • These are found within the pelvis and include:
  • The vagina
  • The uterus (sometimes called the womb)
  • The cervix
  • The uterine tubes (or fallopian tubes)
  • The ovaries

External Organs

  • These are found beyond or outside the pelvis:
  • The clitoris
  • The labia major
  • The labia minor
  • The Bartholin Glands
  • The perineum
  • The breasts( somewhat controversial with its inclusion)

Functions of the Female Reproductive System:

The female reproductive system serves many functions, which may be achieved by the different structures or organs within the system.

These functions include:
The Vagina

  • Facilitates flow of menses
  • Allows passage of fetus during birth( known as the birth canal)
  • The female organ of coitus

The Uterus

  • Safe house for developing fetus where it is nourished and protected
  • Uterine muscle contractions facilitate delivery of child by propelling down the birth canal

The Uterine Tubes (The fallopian tubes)

  • This is the actual site of fertilization, not the ovary as believed
  • The passage linking the ovary  to the uterus

The Ovaries

  • The ovaries are glands (endocrine) which are responsible for secretion of the hormones estrogen and progesterone
  • The ovaries contain hundreds ( or thousands) of immature eggs which will gradually be released throughout a woman’s lifetime

The Breasts:The breasts are important organs for nourishment of the newborn, and though not considered an essential reproductive organ, play a big part in development of the infant extra-utero (outside the uterus).
The Labia: The main function of both labia is the protection of the internal reproductive organs.

Conditions that may affect the female reproductive system:
Various conditions may affect the female reproductive system, targeting either one or multiple structures in it.
Common conditions include:

Vaginal atrophy: This is a condition common after menopause when the vaginal secretions reduce and dryness occurs.

Cysts of the ovary: These are very common and most pose no problem. However, there is a small amount that will cause issues such as prolonged menstrual bleeding and pain, as well as the potential to become malignant cancers.

Bacterial Vaginosis: This is one of the most common infections in women, and is responsible for itching, discharge and odor. Treatment is available, so the condition does not necessarily need to progress.

Prolapses: Prolapses occur when one or more organs inside a woman’s pelvis drop down into the vagina as a result of weakened support structures and muscles.

Fibroids: These are similar to cysts of the ovary, except that they occur in the uterus. Between 25 % of women can expect to develop fibroids in their lifetime even though symptoms may not manifest.

Endometriosis: This occurs when cells normally residing in the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) become relocated to another part of the system and continue to grow. The result is the same effect of the menstrual period but in a remote part of the reproductive system.

Various cancers: Many different types of cancer may affect the female reproductive system since there are so many sites for attack. Common cancers of this system are cervical, vaginal, uterine, ovarian, and vulvar to name a few. Breast cancer is also very prevalent and is considered a cancer of this system.

Sexually transmitted infections: Numerous STIs can infect women, and much more easily than in men. The most common STIs in women are Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, syphilis and HIV.

Interesting  facts about the female reproductive system:

  • The ovum is the largest cell found throughout the female body
  • A woman will never run out of eggs (so a child every year is very possible)
  • An ovum once released by the ovary has a lifespan of about half to one day
  • The uterus is normally the size of a pear, but can stretch up to the size of a watermelon during pregnancy
  • A female is born with all the eggs she will ever have (about 2 million). She will never produce new eggs