Female Reproductive/Sexual System

The female reproductive/sexual system is made up of the organs that allow a female to:

  • Have and enjoy sex
  • Produce and release eggs
  • Be pregnant
  • Give birth

Breasts are also considered to be part of the reproductive system.

Internal Sex Organs
Ovaries
  • Located on each side of the uterus
  • Produce female hormones and eggs
  • About the size and shape of almonds
  • At birth the ovaries contain 2 - 4 million immature eggs (called ova)
  • The ovaries release one egg during each menstrual cycle this is called ovulation
  • Ovulation occurs about once a month, starting at puberty and ending at menopause

Ovaries

Fallopian Tubes
  • Tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus (one on each side)
  • About 10 cm in length
  • Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes when sperm meets an egg

Fallopian Tubes

Uterus (womb)
  • Hollow, muscular organ about the size of a fist where a fertilized egg develops until birth
  • Located low in the abdomen, behind the bladder and in front of the bowel
  • Enlarges during pregnancy, to accommodate a growing fetus

Uterus (womb)

Cervix
  • Opening to the uterus
  • Acts to keep things out of the uterus while allowing sperm to get in
  • Cervical mucous is found here and is thinner around the time of ovulation to allow sperm to get in

Cervix

Vagina
  • A muscular tube connecting the cervix to the outside of the body
  • Passes the menstrual flow during a period or menstruation
  • When relaxed, the walls of the vagina fold in and touch each other
  • During the arousal process the vagina relaxes, lengthens and lubricates (gets wetter)
  • The hymen is known as a thin piece of tissue found at the entrance to the vagina. This membrane varies from person to person and usually they erode over time because of hormonal changes, tampon use, fingers being inside the vagina, etc.

Vagina

External Sex Organs
Breasts
  • Start to develop during puberty; breast development can continue until a person is in their 20s.
  • Surrounding the nipple is the areola which varies in size and colour
  • Breast size and shape varies from one woman to the next and is determined by age, genes, weight, etc.
Vulva
  • Includes all the outer genitals. People often mistakenly call the vulva the vagina when in fact the vagina is the canal that runs from the opening of the vagina to the cervix
  • You can see your vulva by holding a mirror between your legs
Mon pubis
  • The only part that is visible from the front of the body
  • The pad of skin that covers the pubic bone
  • Area is covered by pubic hair
Labia majora
  • Literally meaning "larger lips"
  • Form the outer part of the vulva
  • Are sensitive to touch and help in lubrication
Clitoris
  • Most sensitive part of the vulva
  • Only function is to provide sexual pleasure
  • During sexual arousal, the tissue becomes filled with blood and becomes erect
Labia minora
  • Usually thinner than the labia majora
  • The labia minora and majora differ in size and shape in every body
  • Also helps to lubricate and are sensitive to touch

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