What is the female reproductive system?
The female reproductive system made up of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the vagina. The female reproductive system produces ova, or eggs, receives sperm from penis, houses and provides nutrients to the developing zygote (fertilized egg) and later the embryo and fetus, gives birth to the offspring, and feeds those offspring after birth
The ovaries and Menstruation
Eggs are produced in the ovaries, oval-shaped organs in the groin that also generate sex hormones. At birth, a female’s ovaries contain hundreds of thousands of undeveloped eggs, each surrounded by a group of cells to form a follicle, or sac. During puberty the action of hormones causes several follicles to develop each month. Normally, just one follicle matures, rupturing and releasing an ovum through the ovary wall in a process called ovulation (the release of an egg cell from one of the ovaries). The mature egg enters one of the paired fallopian tubes, where it may be fertilized by a sperm and move on to the uterus to develop into a fetus. The lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, prepares for pregnancy each month by thickening, but if fertilization does not take place, the endometrium is shed during menstruation.
What is Menstruation?
The menstrual cycle is the way a women’s body gets ready for the possibility of pregnancy each month. Over a period of days the blood vessels shrink and the uterus will shed the unneeded lining, which is made of a small amount of blood and tissue. The lining flows down the uterus through the cervix into the vagina and out the body. This is called menstruation or the menstrual period. The amount of blood being lost during menstruation is relatively small. Only about two to four ounces over a three to eight day period slowly flow from the vagina. A woman has approximately 120 ounces of blood in her body that is constantly being replenished. Some girls and women may experience discomfort during their period. Sometimes this discomfort may be called cramps.
Fertilization is when a sperm cell from the male meets and joins with an egg cell from the female. During sexual intercourse, a man releases approximately 300 million sperm into a woman’s vagina, but only one of the sperm can fertilize the ovum (egg). The successful sperm cell must enter the uterus, swim up the fallopian tube to meet the ovum (egg), and the pass through a thick coating, known as the zona pellucida. Once the head of the sperm is inside the egg, the tail falls off, and the outside of the egg thickens to prevent another sperm from entering. As a result of this process, a woman becomes pregnant.
To learn more about a baby’s growth and birth, visit the following: