The female reproductive system provides several functions. The ovaries produce the egg cells, called the ova or oocytes. The oocytes are then transported to the fallopian tube where fertilization by a sperm may occur. The fertilized egg then moves to the uterus, where the uterine lining has thickened in response to the normal hormones of the reproductive cycle. Once in the uterus, the fertilized egg can implant into thickened uterine lining and continue to develop.
The female reproductive system is made up of the internal and external sex organs that function in reproduction of new offspring. In humans, the female reproductive system is immature at birth and develops to maturity at puberty to be able to produce gametes , and to carry a foetus to full term. The internal sex organs are the uterus , Fallopian tubes , and ovaries. The uterus or womb accommodates the embryo which develops into the foetus. The uterus also produces vaginal and uterine secretions which help the transit of sperm to the Fallopian tubes. The ovaries produce the ova egg cells. The external sex organs are also known as the genitals and these are the organs of the vulva including the labia , clitoris , and vaginal opening.
The internal genital organs form a pathway the genital tract. This pathway consists of the following:. The hymen, a mucous membrane, is located at the beginning of the genital tract, just inside the opening of the vagina see figure External Female Genital Organs. In virgins, the hymen usually encircles the opening like a tight ring, but it may completely cover the opening. The hymen helps protect the genital tract but is not necessary for health.
Although a man is needed to reproduce, it is the woman who incubates the developing fetus and delivers the child into the world. Females are born with a large number of potential ova female sex cells, also called egg cells. The cells ripen on a regular basis, but only one is released each month until a woman reaches menopause. Menopause commonly begins between the ages of 45 and Because carrying a child and giving birth is such a delicate process, numerous physical problems for the mother can arise.