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The reproductive system review

Key terms

TermMeaning
GameteA reproductive (sex) cell. In males, sperm; in females, eggs
PubertyProcess during which adolescents reach sexual and reproductive maturity
TestesMale reproductive gland that produces sperm and male hormones
OvariesFemale reproductive gland that produces eggs and female hormones
Menstrual cyclePattern of events in females involving the development and release of an egg
FertilizationThe process in sexual reproduction in which a male gamete and female gamete fuse to form a new cell

The female reproductive system

Diagram of major female reproductive organs
Image modified from OpenStax, CC BY 4.0
OrganFunction
OvariesProduces and develops eggs
Fallopian tubes (oviducts)Transports egg to uterus, acts as site of fertilization
UterusSupports a developing embryo
CervixAllows passage between the uterus and the vagina
VaginaReceives penis during intercourse, acts as birth canal, passes menstrual flow
BreastsProduce and deliver milk
During puberty, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce two hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In females, FSH and LH stimulate the ovaries to produce the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This results in the development of secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts), and causes the ovaries to begin producing mature eggs.
Egg release (ovulation) occurs approximately every 28 days, and is part of a larger process called the menstrual cycle. If an egg is fertilized after ovulation, it attaches to the wall of the uterus and embryonic development begins.
If an egg is not fertilized (or a fertilized egg does not attach to the wall of the uterus), the egg and the lining of the uterus are discharged from the body.

The male reproductive system

Diagram of male reproductive organs
Image from OpenStax, CC BY 4.0
OrganFunction
TestesProduce sperm and male hormones
ScrotumSupports testes and regulates their temperature
Seminal vesicleContribute fluids to semen production
Prostate glandSecretes prostate fluid (component of semen), aids in ejaculation
EpididymisStores mature sperm
Vas deferensTransports sperm from epididymis
PenisTransfers sperm into female
Puberty begins the same way in males as it does in females: the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce FSH and LH.
In males, LH stimulates the testes to produce testosterone, and with FSH, causes sperm development to occur. Testosterone is also responsible for the development of secondary male sex characteristics, such as a deepened voice and growth of body hair.

Common mistakes and misconceptions

  • Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube (oviduct) of the female reproductive system. Once fertilized, the egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. It becomes a ball of cells over time, then develops in the uterus of the female to become a baby.
  • Only females are born with reproductive sex cells. Females are born with immature eggs already in their ovaries. When puberty occurs, the eggs mature and are released by the ovaries. Males only produce sperm after reaching puberty.
  • Females do not urinate through the vagina. In men, both semen and urine pass through the urethra, a passageway that terminates at the end of the penis. Females urinate through a urethra as well, but it is not connected to their vaginal opening. The female urethra is located above the vagina and urine may pass over or around the opening, but the two passageways are not connected.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user K P
    So I notice a detailed diagram for the male reproductive system, but not the female? Why isn't there more detail on the labia majora and minora, clitoris, mons pubis, etc?
    (11 votes)
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  • female robot ada style avatar for user kamalikakoala
    Why is the regulation of the temperature of sperms important?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user shawndriafaust
    What gets clipped during a vasectomy?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user valerie edmondson
    Fertilization starts at what point
    (2 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user Abhinay Singh
    I have certain doubt regarding female reproductive system
    (1) There are two ovaries in female reproductive system and in video lecture sir said there is only one egg is produced in female so which ovary produce egg?
    (2) There are two fallopian tubes in which one ferilization occure?
    (3)how the sperm reaches from the vagina to fallopian tube in the female reproductive system diagram it is not clear
    kindly help me
    (2 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user chaniru ratnaweera
      1)it depends on the readiness of each ovary to release the egg so when one ovary is still building the egg the other ovary releases the egg
      2)any (depending on what direction sperm cells swim)
      3)the sperm enters through the the cervix through the mucus and swims up the uterus till it meets the egg and till it fertilizes
      (7 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user thbihezande
    what is the ovarian cycle
    (1 vote)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user jasmine
      ovarian cycle (28 days) is the cyclic changes which take place in the ovary of the fertile female every mounth , under the effect of the hormones of the pitutary gland (FSH and LH) .
      this cycle has 3 phases :
      1. follicular phase
      2. ovulation
      3. luteal phase
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user 25ricardoh33
    the sperm enters through the the cervix through the mucus and swims up the uterus till it meets the egg and till it fertilizes
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Camarya Jones
    what structure stores male gametes?
    (1 vote)
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  • piceratops tree style avatar for user shritan.khammamkar.582
    Is it dangerous if, hypothetically, you ejaculate at the same time as urination? It is confusing since they are sent through two different tubes yet they still come out the same area.
    (1 vote)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Betty :)
      This is from a website GoAskAlice:
      "The male body has a system that keeps it from being able to ejaculate and urinate at the same time. During sexual arousal, muscles at the base of the bladder contract in order to close off the passageway from the bladder into the urethra, the tube through which urine and semen leave the body. This makes it impossible for urine to be released during ejaculation."
      (2 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user ThunderFlame
    are there a sensory organ on the egg that keeps the other sperm from coming in?
    (1 vote)
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    • stelly green style avatar for user Hannah  Brown
      When a sperm makes it through the zona pellucida and binds to a sperm receptor in the innermost layer of the ovum, it releases its nucleus within. The ooocyte then releases a lot of calcium from its endoplasmic reticulum, which causes all the other sperm receptors to be destroyed. This causes the other sperm trying to get through to be unsuccessful.
      (1 vote)