Reproductive System: Male and Female Anatomy

Vital Pregnancy and Labor Organs

Understanding the Male and Female Reproductive Organs

Procreation, through the female’s reproductive system, is the most fascinating realm amidst the wonders of natural law.

The reproductive parts such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, testicles and other organs, along with the process of conception, pregnancy and childbirth are important steps of procreation. Hence, let us develop a good understanding of the reproductive system!

The Mother’s Body – A Warm Haven for the Fetus

reproductive system

The female body undergoes several key changes during pregnancy: The size of the uterus increase 500 folds, vagina and pelvic bones soften, change in secretion acidity and the vaginal environment.

Vulva Prevents Bacterial Invasion During Pregnancy

The female genitalia consist of the labia majora, labia minora, bulb of vestibule, clitoris and more. The pathway from the vaginal opening to the womb is called the vagina. During the course of pregnancy, the vaginal wall cells and parts of the vulva secrete thick acidic mucus to prevent bacterial invasion.

The 500 Fold Increase in Uterus Size

The uterus is an organ connected to the vagina and located in the middle of the pelvis. Situated on the front of the pelvis is the bladder, with the rectum located at the back. Before conception, the size of the uterus is similar to that of an egg, with a length of approximately 8-9 cm, 6 cm wide, 4 cm thick and weighing 50mg.

In most women, the uterus is positioned angled towards the front but in about 20% of women, it is angled backwards. This ‘bending’ of the uterus is known as the flexion of the uterus. The uterus plays a key role in the mortality of the fetus during the first 38 weeks after fertilization. It will weigh around 1 kg and expand to 20 folds of its original size. The top portion, which is approximately 2/3 of the uterus sector, is referred to as the uterus, whereas the other 1/3 of the lower portion is referred to as the cervix. The center portion of the cervix leading to the uterus is called the cervix entrance.

The uterus is shaped like an inverted triangle, structured by thick layer of muscle lines covered with soft mucosal lining. Generally speaking, endometrial thickness and menstrual cycle varies in different women. The endometrium inside the uterine wall consists mainly of muscle, which contracts during labor to push the fetus out of the mother’s body.

If the endometrium is too thin, it may cause a fusion of the muscles, resulting in infertility.

Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes, which stretch around 10 cm in length, are connected to the ovary from the top of the uterus. On the end of each fallopian, is an attached ovary producing eggs waiting to be fertilized.

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Muscles Exerting Most Force during Labor

The pelvis comprises of 3 interconnecting bones. These three bones are held together through a cartilage. Midway throughout pregnancy, the connection softens, and during labor, it widens and opens up the birth canal.

The lower portion of the pelvis connects to the urethra, vagina and rectum. During labor, the large pelvic floor muscles play a significant role by exerting sufficient force to expand the pelvic bones and simulating the childbirth. Once the newborn have been successfully delivered, it contracts to its original state. If the stretched muscles were torn during labor, it will require surgical restoration.

Once the egg is successfully fertilized, the Cilia will move the egg down the fallopian tube into the uterus. In a situation where there is an inflammation of the fallopian tubes, it may cause a blockage of the tubes and fusion of the surrounding tissue, leading to infertility. Also, if the fertilized egg is unable to reach the uterus and starts developing in the fallopian tube, it will result in ectopic pregnancy.

Composition of the Ovary

Similar to the male testicles, there are two ovaries in the female reproductive system, one on each side. The shape of the ovary resembles an almond and normally around 3 x 2 x 1.5 cm in size. Besides producing estrogen and progesterone hormones, ovaries are tasked with the important role of producing eggs.

There are about 400 - 6 million follicles in the ovaries of a newborn girl, which will decrease to approximately 600,000 by the time she reaches puberty. Between puberty to menopause, aside from pregnancy, one follicle will mature and ovulate each month. It is estimated that only around 300-500 follicles will mature and ovulate in a woman’s lifetime. Generally before ovulation, the follicles will secrete estrogen hormones followed by progesterone at the end of each ovulation cycle.

A Father’s Body – Possessing the Essential Core of Life

The core function of the male reproductive system is the production and secretion of sperms. If the sperm production is hindered in any way, a successful conception will not be able to take place.

Central Organs of the Male Genitalia - The Testicles

The core of the male reproductive system is the testicles, not the penis, due to its primary function to produce sperm. The size of each testicle is similar to that of a chestnut, measuring approximately 5 cm in length and 3-5 cm in diameter. They are situated within a pouch-like skin known as the scrotum, which keeps the sperms at optimum temperature. The minimum temperature required for sperm production is slightly lower than the body temperature. If the scrotal temperature rises above desired levels, the water from perspiration within the scrotum will evaporate and cools the overall temperature. Wearing underwear that is too tight will result in a higher scrotal temperature and hindering sperm production. Within the testis are long tubes known as seminiferous tubules where sperm are produced and matured. These seminiferous tubules are connected and surrounded by a thick capsule, forming a testicle.

Seminiferous Tubule – Site of Sperm Maturation

Sperm is formed from the cells within the seminiferous tubules and then transported to the epididymis located behind the testes for further maturation. The entire process of sperm production takes around 70-90 days to complete. Matured sperms remain in the epididymis near the bottom of the scrotum. During ejaculation, sperm is propelled through the vas deferens located within the spermatic cord into the abdominal cavity and join the seminal vesicles, which then add alkaline fluid that helps to support the sperm. The sperm count in each ejaculation of the semen is estimated to be 2-4 million. However, only 5% of the semen contains sperms, and the rest are secretions from several other glands.

That’s it for some information about the male and female reproductive system. Below is a video on how to achieve natural conception.

Sandra Henderson
 

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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