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Jamaica Scientific Research Institute
Healing the world, one disorder at a time

Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system consists of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the breasts.

Unlike the male, the human female has a reproductive system located entirely in the pelvis, that is, within the lowest part of the abdomen.

This system, because it contains a primary sex organ, namely the vagina, is prone to certain infectious diseases, chief of which are Sexually Transmitted infections (STIs), also called Sexually Transmitted diseases (STDs).

The normal female system operates such that reproduction is most probable when the system is engaged at the right time with a normal and healthy male counterpart. Healthy female reproductive systems are therefore critical to the survival of any species, including humans.

The external parts of the reproductive system are called the genitalia or vulva (specific term for female genitalia) and their role is two-fold: To enable sperm to enter the body and to protect the internal genital organs from infectious organisms.

The Labia majora or big lips enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs. They contain sweat and oil-secreting glands and after puberty, are covered with hair.

The Labia minora or small lips surround the opening to the vagina and the urethra.

The two labia minora meet at the Clitoris, a small, sensitive protrusion at the front of the vulva that is comparable to the penis in males. The clitoris is covered by a fold of skin, called the prepuce, which is similar to the foreskin at the end of the penis. Like the penis, the clitoris is very sensitive to stimulation and can become erect.

Between the labia are openings to the urethra - the canal that carries urine from the bladder to the outside; and the vagina.

Bartholin's glands are located beside the vaginal opening and produce a fluid (mucus) secretion.

The vagina is is a hollow, elastic, muscular canal that joins the cervix (the lower part of uterus) to the outside of the body. Because it has muscular walls it can expand and contract, becoming wider or narrower to perform different functions, and namely:
  • sexual intercourse;
  • as the pathway that ababy 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's muscular walls are lined with mucous membranes, which keep it protected and moist.

The vagina connects with the uterus, or womb, at the cervix. The cervix is a ring of muscle located at the lower third portion of the uterus. It forms a barrier between the uterus and the vagina. The cervix has strong, thick walls. The opening of the cervix is very small (no wider than a straw). Until birth, the baby is held in place by the cervix. During birth, the cervix expands and the baby passes through it.

The uterus is a hollow organ that is shaped like an upside-down pear. It has a thick lining and muscular walls and in fact, contains some of the strongest muscles of the female body. These muscles hosts the developing fetus and then help push the baby out during labor. When a woman isn't pregnant, the uterus is only about 3 in (7.5 cm) long and 2 in (5 cm) wide.

At the upper corners of the uterus, a fallopian tube connects the uterus to each of two ovaries. The fallopian tubes, also called oviducts, are the vessels through which the egg cell travels from either ovary to the uterus. The smooth movement of the egg is aided by very tiny hairs in the fallopian tube called cilia. The fallopian tubes are about 4 in (10cm) long and about as wide as a spaghetti. Within each tube is a tiny passageway no wider than a sewing needle. At the other end of each fallopian tube is a fringed area that looks like a funnel. This fringed area wraps around the ovary but doesn't completely attach to it. When an egg pops out of an ovary, it enters the fallopian tube.

The ovaries are two oval-shaped organs that lie to the upper right and left of the uterus. They store and release eggs into a fallopian tube every month after puberty in the process called ovulation. Each ovary measures about 1½ to 2 in (4 to 5 cm) in a grown woman. Women (females) are born with hundreds of undeveloped female egg cells (oocytes) or ova (singular - ovum). Unused eggs dissolve and pass out during menstruation.

During the normal menstrual cycle the following should occur.

  • The ovaries produce the female egg cell, called the ovum.
  • The ovum is then transported to the fallopian tube where fertilization by a sperm may occur.
  • The fertilized egg then moves to the uterus, where the uterine lining has thickened in response to the normal hormones of the reproductive cycle.
  • Once in the uterus the fertilized egg can implant into thickened uterine lining and continue to develop.
  • If fertilization does not take place, the uterine lining is shed as menstrual flow.
  • In addition, the female reproductive system produces female sex hormones that maintain the reproductive cycle.

During menopause the female reproductive system gradually stops making the female hormones necessary for the reproductive cycle to work. At this point, menstrual cycles can become irregular and eventually stop. One year after menstrual cycles stop, the woman is considered to be menopausal.

Three of the main Chronic disorders of the Female Reproductive system are Uterine Fibroids simply called Fibroids, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis.

For further information on the Female Reproductive System, visit one of our reference sites

Female Reproductive System - Cleveland clini
Fiblator Herbal drink by JaSciRes for certain types of uterine fibroids

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