S overview of the female reproductive system

The female reproductive system consists of internal sex organs and external genital structures

The interna] female reproductive organs are located in the pelvis, and the external genital structures (external genitalia) are situated in the anterior part of the perineum known as the vulva.

• The internal organs are the ovaries, uterine tubes, uterus, and vagina (Fig. 22.1).

• The external genitalia include the mons pubis, labia ma-jora and minora, clitoris, vestibule and opening of the vagina, and external urethral orifice.

The mammary glands are included in this chapter because their development and functional state are directly related to the hormonal activity of the female reproductive system. Similarly, the placenta is included because of its functional and physical relationship to the uterus in pregnancy.

Female reproductive organs undergo regular cyclic changes from puberty to menopause

The ovaries, uterine tubes, and uterus of the sexually mature female undergo marked structural and functional changes related to neural activity and changes in hormone levels during each menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. These mechanisms also regulate the early development of the female reproductive system. The initiation of the menstrual cycle, referred to as the menarche, occurs in females between 9 and 14 years of age (average 13.5 years) and marks the end of puberty and the beginning of the reproductive lifespan. During this phase of life, the menstrual cycle averages about 28 to 30 days in length. Between 45 and 55 years of age, the menstrual cycle becomes infrequent and eventually ceases. This change in reproductive function is referred to as the menopause or climacterium (commonly called the "change of life"). The ovaries cease their reproductive function of producing oocytes and their endocrine function of producing hormones that regulate reproductive activity. Other organs, e.g., vagina and mammary glands, show varying degrees of reduced function, particularly secretory activity.

fundus of uterus uterine portion of uterine tube isthmus of uterine tube mesosalpinx uterine cavity body of uterus

ampulla of uterine tube mucosal folds

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