The Parts of the Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system produces eggs and supports the developing fetus. The reproductive process begins when a sperm cell from a male joins with an egg cell from a female in a process that scientists call fertilization.

The figure illustrates the structures of the female reproductive system.

  • The female gonads are oval, lumpy-looking structures called ovaries. Ovaries produce eggs in a process called oogenesis. The lumps are the follicles, layers of cells that surround and protect the developing egg cells. In addition to producing egg cells, the ovaries produce the hormone estrogen.

  • During ovulation, an egg cell is pushed out of the ovary into a fallopian tube, which carries the egg to the uterus.

  • The uterus is a muscular structure that houses and protects a developing fetus. Its lining, the endometrium, contains lots of blood vessels that bring nutrients and oxygen to the fetus.

  • The uterus narrows toward the outside of the body, forming a dome of tissue called the cervix. The cervix forms at the junction between the uterus and the muscular canal called the vagina. The vagina opens to the outside of the body, just behind the opening of the urethra.

  • Just in front of the urethra is a small bud of tissue called the clitoris. The clitoris consists of internal tissue called the glans that’s covered with a small hood of tissue called the prepuce. Just like the glans of the penis, the glans clitoris is packed with nerve endings and is very sensitive to touch stimulation. It also contains erectile tissue and swells with blood during sexual arousal.

  • Two sets of tissue fold over and protect the female reproductive parts. A thin pair of tissue folds, called the labia minora, forms a border around the vaginal opening. The labia majora, a thicker, fatty pair of folds, forms a protective covering over the labia minora and vaginal opening.

In females, the height of sexual stimulation also causes intense muscular contractions and a pleasurable feeling of release called orgasm. The fluid released inside the vagina helps create a watery environment that the sperm can swim in. The uterus’s muscular contractions slightly open the cervix, which allows sperm to get inside the uterus and also helps pull sperm upward toward the fallopian tubes.

For questions 1-8, use the terms that follow to label the parts of the female reproductive system in the figure.

[Credit: From LifeART®, Super Anatomy 1, © 2002, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins]
Credit: From LifeART®, Super Anatomy 1, © 2002, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

a. Vagina

b. Clitoris

c. Uterus

d. Ovary

e. Fallopian tube

f. Labia majora

g. Labia minora

h. Cervix

The following is how the figure should be labeled:

  1. e. Fallopian tube

  2. d. Ovary

  3. c. Uterus

  4. h. Cervix

  5. a. Vagina

  6. b. Clitoris

  7. g. Labia minora

  8. f. Labia majora.

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