Female Reproductive System: –
The female reproductive organs comprise two ovaries, two tubes carrying the ovum, Uterus, vagina, vulva and clitoris. A pair of ovaries weighing about 5 gm Is located in the pelvis. This is the most important organ of reproduction as it produces and matures the female germ cell, which is called ovum.
An ovary contains follicles which start maturing at the age of puberty in a girl, and it takes about 28 days to mature. An ovum is present in the follicle which develops inside it and is thrown away after rupturing the wall of the mature follicle. The ovum is carried to the tubes known as fallopian tubes where it is fertilized. The process of maturation of the ovum and its release from the follicle is called ovulation. After the rupture of the follicle, a yellow body known as corpus luteum forms at the site of the rupture, which persists if fertilization of the ovum takes place, or as well it shrinks and dies leaving a scar. Thus, lack of fertilization results in the outflow2 of the menstrual blood in women. The menstruation and ovulation continue in women till the age of about 45 to 48, after which the change of life, called the menopause which leads to the cessations of the function of the ovaries. Thus the female reproductive organs becomes partly inactive.
After fertilization, the ovum begins to develop into an embryo and travels downwards from the fallopian tubes to a wide muscular organ called uterus which is situated in the pelvis. The vagina is a narrow tube about 8 to 10 cm long, where the seminal fluid of the male is deposited during coitus when the sperms swim in and enter the uterus.
So the female reproductive organs consist of the female internal and external genitalia and the mammary glands. Now let us get some idea about the anatomical observation of the different reproductive organs of women.
The Ovaries: –
The ovaries are the very important organ among the female reproductive system. The female gonads are the right and left ovaries. The ova, which is the female gametes are produced in the ovaries. Each ovary is shaped like an almond. Approximately it is 3 cm in length, i.5 cm in width and 1 cm in thickness. It is covered by a germinal epithelium and it is continuous to the peritoneum. The ovary is attached to the posterosuperior aspect of the broad ligament which is stretches from the side of the uterus to the side wall and floor of the pelvis. The lateral wall of the pelvis is called the suspensory ligament of the ovary. Due to its peritoneal attachments the ovary has considerable mobility leading to variations in its orientation. The ovary’s long axis is vertical, which has upper and lower ends, medial and lateral surfaces, and anterior and posterior borders. The substance of the ovary is separable into an outer cortex and an inner medulla. Some rounded structures called ovarian follicles are seen in the cortex. There is one developing ovum surrounded by supporting follicular cells. In the reproductive period of a woman’s life one ovarian follicle matures every month. This forms an elevation on the surface of the ovary and with more enlargement, it ruptures shedding the ovum which is called ovulation.
The follicle developing region of the female reproductive organs is overlapped by the end of the uterine tube which receives the ovum discharged from the ovary. The remaining part of the ovarian follicle is converted into a yellowish body named as corpus luteum.
The Uterine Tubes: –
The right and left uterine tubes lie in the free margin of the corresponding broad ligament. It has two ends – the medial and the lateral. The medial end is attached to the corresponding side of the uterus. The lateral end of the tube lies near the ovary. It has an opening at this end through which its lumen is in communication with the peritoneal cavity and this opening is called abdominal ostium . The uterine tube of the female reproductive organs is about 10 cm in length. Near the medial end about 1 cm of the tube, is embedded in the muscle wall of the uterus and called the uterine part of the tube. The next 3 cm is thick walled and has a narrow lumen like a cord is called isthmus. The next 5 cm is thin walled and has a larger lumen than the rest of the tube is called the ampulla. The lateral end of the uterine tube is shaped like a funnel and is called the infundibulum .
Ova discharged from the ovary enter the uterine tube through the infundibulum and passes into the ampulla. It slowly travels towards the uterus. If sexual intercourse takes place at the appropriate time spermatozoa enter into the uterine tube through the vagina and uterus and meet the ovum in the ampulla of the tube. Fertilisation normally takes place at the ampulla. After fertilisation the ovum travels through the uterine tube towards the uterus and enters into its cavity. Now it gets implanted in the uterine wall. If the fertilisation does not take place the unfertilised ovum enters the uterus and discharged through the vagina in the period of menstruation.
The Uterus: –
The uterus is another important part of the female reproductive organs. The uterus is about 7.5 cm in length. Near its upper end its maximum width is about 5 cm. Its anteroposterior thickness is about 2.5 cm. The exterior of the uterus shows a constriction at the junction of its upper two thirds with the lower one third. The part above the constriction is called the body, which is broad at above and narrow at below. The cervix is the par below the constriction and this part is more or less cylindrical.
The uterus has a thick wall and a relatively narrow lumen. The wall of the is made up of a thick layer of muscle called the myometrium and of inner lining of mussel is called the endometrium. In the coronal plane the lumen of the body of the uterus is triangular in shape. The lumen of each uterine tube joins the lateral angle of this triangle. The part of the body of the uterus that lies above the level of the openings of the uterine tube is called fundus. The canal of the cervix is roughly cylindrical. Its upper and lower ends are somewhat narrower than the central part. The internal os is called to the upper narrow end and the external os is called to the narrow lower end. The cavity of the uterus communicates with that of vagina through the external os.
The uterus as one of the vital female reproductive organs lies in the true pelvis. In the erect posture the long axis of the uterus is oblique. The long axis of the uterus is more or less at right angles to the long axis of the vagina. The bending which is forward of the uterus relative to the vagina is referred to as anteversion of the uterus. The peritoneum lined space between the fronts of the body of the uterus and the superior surface of the urinary bladder is called the vesico-uterine pouch. The space between the uterus in front and the rectum behind is called the pouch of Douglas.
The anterior surface of the uterus is related to the superior surface of the urinary bladder. The body is separated from the bladder by peritoneum, but the upper part of the cervix is in direct contact. The lower part of the cervix is within the vagina.
At the time of birth the cervix of the uterus is large and the body is small. But thereafter the body grows more than the cervix so that by puberty the uterus acquires its normal shape. The uterus undergoes slight enlargement at the time of each menstrual period. It undergoes very much enlargement in pregnancy. After the end of pregnancy the uterus gradually approaches near its normal size, but the size of its cavity and the thickness of its muscle wall remain than it was before pregnancy.
The Vagina: –
Another part of the female reproductive organs is the vagina which is a tubular structure with a muscular wall. Its lower end opens to the exterior through the vestibule. At its upper end it is attached to the cervix of the uterus. The long axis of the vagina runs upwards and backwards. The vagina has anterior and posterior walls. The anterior wall is shorter than the posterior. The anterior wall of the vagina is related above the base of the urinary bladder, and below to the urethra. The relationship with the urethra and the vagina is close. The posterior wall of the vagina is related from above downwards to the rectouterine pouch, the rectum, and the perineal body. Laterally, the vagina is related to the levator ani muscles. At its upper end the vagina is related laterally to the right and left ureters, and the right and left uterine arteries.
The Mammary Glands: –
The breasts or mammary glands although play no direct role in reproduction, they are included amongst the female reproductive organs as they provide essential nourishment
to the newborn and the infant as milk. The breasts are well developed only in the female after the age of puberty. Each of the right or left breast is a rounded elevation present on the front of the upper part of the thorax, over the pectoral regionAt the centre over the breast the skin shows a dark circular area , called the areola. In the centre of the areola there is conical projection called the nipple. Deep to the skin the breast lies in the superficial fascia which consist of a mass of glandular tissue embedded in connective tissue and fat.
The breast extends upwards to the level of the second rib, and downward to the sixth rib. Medially it extends to the left or right margin of the sternum and laterally its extent is not same for every female, but it may reach the midaxillary line. The greater part of the breast lies over the pectoralis major. The glandular tissue of the breast consists of acini that are aggregated to form lobules. A lobe is formed by several lobules. There are about 15 to 20 such lobes in each breast. The acini of the each lobe are worn out by small ducts which finally end in one duct for each lobe called the lactiferous duct. A little proximal to the opening each ducts shows a dilation which is called the lactiferous sinus. The ducts open on the surface of the nipple. Deep to the areola there are several modified sebaceous glands which become enlarged during pregnancy and produce surface elevations. The secretion of these glands provides a protective covering for the areola and nipple during lactation. There is partial atrophy of glandular elements after the end of lactation and in old age the breast atrophies.
Female External Genitalia: –
In female reproductive organs the external genitalia include mons pubis, clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, the vestibule of vagina, and Bartholin’s glands. The external genital organs are separated from the internal ones by the hymen. Mons pubis presents the rounded fleshy prominence over the symphysis pubis. The upper boundary of the mons pubis is the transverse fold of the skin. The inguinal folds fan laterally from the mons. Mons pubis has a well developed subcutaneous fat and covered with hair. The degree of hair growth on the mons makes it possible to judge about the ovarian function. Thus, in women with ovarian hypo function pubic hair is scanty, where as women with the masculine pattern the hair growth usually ovarian and adrenal dysfunction.
The labia majora are two longitudinal skin folds, which meet posteriorly to form posterior commissure.the skin in this area is covered with hair. There is also well developed subcutaneous fat with vessels and nerves running through it. Bartholin’s glands lie in the substance of the posterior third of the lobia majora. These glands are small and secrete a whitish mucus fluid that is released during sexual excitement and moistens the vagina. The secretion is carried into Bartholin’s ducts opening between the labia minora and that hymen
The labia minora are another pair of longitudinal skin folds within labia majora bounding the vestibule of the vagina. The labia minora are abundantly supplied with vessels and nerve endings to make them a sensitive sex organ.
Clitoris is small cone-shaped organ situated at the anterior angle which consists of cavernous bodies where the blood circulates. The clitoris is reach in nerve endings and blood vessels and is locus of sexual feeling. When excited, it increase in size and becomes erect. Vestibule of vagina is the space enclosed by the clitoris, posterior commissure, and laterally by labia majora.
Hymen is a fold of mucus membrane as one of the female reproductive organs which during virginity partially or entirely closes the external orifice of the vagina. The hymen ruptures after the first sexual intercourse. After child birth remnants of the ruptured hymen can be found.