human female reproductive system
Female Reproductive Organ: Computer generated image reconstructed from scanned human data. This image presents a frontal view of primary components of the human female reproductive system. In the center is the uterus, an oval-shaped structure, highlighted in purple. The uterus opens into the vagina, indicated as the light brownish-purple structure extending from below the uterus. The two highlighted yellow regions on the left and right sides of the uterus are the ovaries containing eggs, or oocytes, the female sex cells. The oocytes are released from the ovaries and travel through the fallopian tubes, the pink tube-like structures observed in this image. When fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg will implant itself to the wall of uterus where embryonic development can begin. If fertilization does not occur, menstruation ensues.
The female reproductive system (or female genital system) contains two main parts: the uterus, which hosts the developing fetus, produces vaginal and uterine secretions, and can pass sperm through to the Fallopian tubes; and the ovaries, which produce the female's egg cells. These parts are internal; the vagina meets the external organs at the vulva, which includes the labia, clitoris and urethra. The vagina is attached to the uterus through the cervix, while the uterus is attached to the ovaries via the Fallopian tubes. At certain intervals, the ovaries release an ovum, which passes through the Fallopian tube into the uterus. If, in this transit, it meets with sperm, a single sperm can enter and merge with the egg, fertilizing it. Corresponding equivalent among males is the male reproductive system.
During the reproductive process, the egg is not a passive recipient but rather an active participant in the fertilization process. It releases certain molecules that are essential to guiding the sperm which allow the surface of the egg to attach to the sperm's surface. The egg can then absorb the sperm and fertilization begins. The fertilization usually occurs in the oviducts, but can happen in the uterus itself. A zygote will then divide over enough generations of cells to form a blastocyst, which implants itself in the wall of the uterus, where it begins the processes of embryogenesis and morphogenesis. When developed enough to survive outside the womb, the cervix dilates and contractions of the uterus propel the fetus through the birth canal, which is the vagina.
The ova are larger than sperm and have formed by the time a female is born. Approximately every month, a process of oogenesis matures one ovum to be sent down the Fallopian tube attached to its ovary in anticipation of fertilization. If not fertilized, this egg is flushed out of the system through menstruation.
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