Female Reproduction

Female Reproduction

Lesson 1

ovary - a gland that produces estrogen and ova. Ova are female reproductive cells. Ova also are

called eggs. An ovum is one egg.

fallopian tube - a four inch long tube through which ova move from an ovary to the uterus. A

female has two Fallopian tubes; one near each ovary.

uterus - an organ that supports a fertilized egg during pregnancy. The uterus is muscular and

stretches when a baby is growing inside.

cervix - the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. During childbirth, the baby

passes through the cervix into the vagina.

vagina - a tube that connects to the outside of the body. The vagina is very muscular. It stretches

when a mother gives birth.

Female External Reproductive Organs - clitoris, mons pubis, labias, vaginal opening

Clitoris - Small knob of tissue in front of the vaginal opening. A rich supply of nerve endings and

blood vessels. Only part of the female sexual anatomy with no known reproductive function. Has an

important function in producing sexual arousal. Exposed portion is the glans.

Mons Pubis - Rounded fatty pad of tissue, covered with pubic hair. Located on anterior side of the

female body. The mons pubis is directly on top of the pubic bones, top of pubic symphysis. Provides

protection to some degree for the pubic symphysis.

Labia majora - The outer fold of tissue on either side of the vaginal opening.

Labia minora - The inner fold of skin on either side of the vaginal opening. These inner folds extend

forward forming a hood like covering over the clitoris. They serve as a line of protection against germs

entering the body and also serve a function in sexual arousal. Both the majora and minora are rich in

nerve endings and blood vessels.

Vaginal opening - Becomes visible when the labias are parted. Just inside the vaginal opening may be a

thin membrane called the hymen.

Hymen - This membrane stretches across the opening of the vagina. It has no known function and is

not present in all females. The hymen usually has several openings in it, thus allowing for the passage

of the menstrual flow. Misconceptions have developed throughout history: an intact hymen was the

sign of a virgin, with first intercourse and the tearing of the hymen, a female experienced pain and

bleeding. Neither of these things is true. Some females are born without a hymen. Others may tear the

hymen through a variety of physical activities - often without even knowing it. Some hymen tissue is very

flexible and may stay intact during intercourse. Because there are usually openings in the hymen, sperm

released at the vaginal opening can swim into the vagina and up to an egg cell, resulting in fertilization

and pregnancy. Thus, a female could become pregnant and still have an intact hymen.

Sterility Usually takes a number of forms. Once cause of female sterility is the blocking of the Fallopian

tubes. The egg cell cannot pass into the uterus. Another cause is the female's failure to ovulate.

Endometriosis, a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (or tissue similar to the tissue) the

endometrium is present abnormally in the abdominal cavity. Surgery can usually correct this condition.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Refers to a variety of symptoms that some females experience

before their menstrual periods. Usually experienced two weeks before the menstrual period or several

days before it. Many females never experience PMS. Symptoms may include nervous tension, anxiety,

irritability, bloating, weight gain, depression, mood swings, and fatigue. More common in women in their

30s. PMS is related to a hormonal imbalance. Others attribute the cause to a nutritional deficiency. Most

doctors recommend a diet and life-style changes as the first treatment of PMS. Encourage women to

find ways to reduce stress. PMS sufferers need to evaluate their diets, reducing the intake of sugar,

salt, caffeine, nicotine, and alcoholic beverages. They should also increase their intake of B vitamins,

magnesium, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. Finally a regular exercise program should be


Dysmenorrhea (dis-men-or-e-uh) Painful contraction in the uterus during menstruation. Relief can

usually be had by a warm bath or by doing certain exercises as outlined by a physician.

Vaginitis - Very common condition in females.