Female Reproductive System – Concept, function and structure

We explain what the female reproductive system is and its main functions. Also, what are its parts and possible diseases.

Female reproductive system
The female reproductive system performs sexual reproduction functions.

What is the female reproductive system?

As its name indicates, the female reproductive system is the set of organs, tissues and ducts present in human beings of the female gender (as well as other higher animals), which fulfill the various functions involved in sexual reproduction.

This involves preparation for intercourse, fertilization of the ovum, pregnancy (or its equivalents in other animals, such as egg laying) and birth. It is also known as the female genital tract.

In the case of the human being, the female reproductive system is responsible for physically and biochemically promoting the encounter between the sperm ejaculated by the man inside the woman’s vagina, and the eggs generated by the woman. This union occurs in the uterus and, once the cells are fertilized, a zygote is generated that after nine months of growth will become a new human individual.

The entire gestation process of said new individual in the womb is known as pregnancy, and during the nine months that the woman’s body takes, it will be hormonally, biochemically and physically available to provide the fetus with the necessary nutrients for its proper development.

When the uterus is ready to exist outside the womb, the muscles around the uterus will contract and the cervix will dilate, expelling it through the birth canal (the vagina).

The female genital tract, thus, is essential for the reproduction of the species and it is evolutionarily designed to activate at puberty, along with hormonal and sexual awakening, a stage that is part of adolescence.

Thus, menstruation is a normal activity of uterine maintenance, which discards unfertilized eggs and renews the walls of the endometrium, so that the following month the chances of fertility are always as high as possible.

Function of the female reproductive system

Female reproductive system
The eggs secrete molecules that attract sperm.

As has been said, the function of the female reproductive system could not be more indispensable for the species: promote fertilization and serve as a container for the new individual until the culmination of their gestation.

However, this function should not be thought of as merely passive. Egg production begins with puberty, along with menstruation, despite the fact that women are born with the total number of eggs formed that they will have during life.

For their part, the ovules do not simply wait to be fertilized, but secrete molecules that attract the sperm to them and, once the encounter occurs, facilitate the absorption of the sperm content to obtain the zygote. It is a complex process that occurs at the connection between the fallopian tubes and the uterus where the baby will be gestated.

Parts of the female reproductive system

Female reproductive system
The fallopian tubes are between 10 and 13 cm.

The female genital tract is made up of two parts, each one involving different sets of organs, glands, and ducts.

  • External organs. The female genitalia are collectively known as the vulva, and are necessary to carry out copulation (sexual intercourse with penetration of the penis into the vagina). This includes the clitoris, the labia majora and labia minora, the mons pubis, and the openings of the urethra and vagina.
  • Internal organs. Most of the female genital tract is within the body, and includes various organs that deserve separate mention:
    • The vagina It is the conduit that allows the penis to enter the female body, accompanying it with the necessary lubrication and secretion, during intercourse. After the pregnancy, it widens and allows the newborn to come out.
    • The uterus. The sac where fertilization occurs, the fetus is gestated and contains it until the day of delivery.
    • The ovaries. Organs where the eggs are gestated and prepared to leave the uterus, once a month. There are usually two and they are also responsible for hormonal production for the sexual development of women.
    • The fallopian tubes. Ducts between 10 and 13 cm that connect the ovaries with the uterus, and in which fertilization can occur (but the fertilized zygote is rarely implanted in them).

Diseases of the female reproductive system

The reproductive system of women can suffer from various ailments, such as:

  • Cancer. Especially in the cervix, it has been associated with certain sexually transmitted diseases (such as HPV) as well as hereditary factors.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). Like men, women can be affected by infectious diseases that are spread through intercourse, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, the human papillomavirus or chlamydia.
  • Endometriosis It is a disorder in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows abnormally outside of it.
  • Infertility Due to various causes, some congenital and others of a biochemical nature, such as too high a pH (which kills sperm) or too thick vaginal mucus (which prevents them from moving).