1. Vulva: The female reproductive structures that lie external to the vagina are called the external genitalia or vulva comprising labia majora, labia minora, hymen and clitoris.
2. Labia majora: Labia Majora means large lips. It is large, fleshly folds of tissue that protect and enclose other external genital organs. Labia majora contains sebaceous and sweat glands, these glands produce lubricating secretion.
3. Labia minora: Labia Minora means minor lips. These are paired folds of tissue that underlie the labia majora. These tissues cover the urethral and vaginal opening, during sexually unstimulated conditions.
But Labia minora becomes more open during sexual arousal.
5. Clitoris: (with 6. Glans and 7. Body).
8. Bulb of the vestibule
13. Fornix (lateral)
14. Uterus: Parts:
16. Body and 17. Fundus.
18. Orifices: External and Internal;
19. Cervical canal;
20. Uterine cavity; Layers:
24. Fallopian tube:
28. Fimbria (with 29. Fimbria ovarica)
31. Visceral pelvic peritoneum:
32. Broad ligament (with 33. Mesosalpinx; 34. Mesovarium and 35. Mesometrium)
38. Suspensory of the ovary
39. Ovarian artery and vein;
40. Uterine artery and veins;
41. Vaginal artery and veins
43. Pelvic floor (Levator ani);
44. Femoral head;
45. Hip bone;
46. Internal iliac vessels (anterior branches);
47. External iliac vessels;
48. Abdominal cavity
The female reproductive system is far more complex than the male’s because, in addition
to gamete formation, it has to nurture the developing foetus. The female reproductive
system consists of a pair of ovaries along with a pair of oviducts, uterus, cervix, vagina and
external genitalia located in the pelvic region.
These parts along with the mammary glands are integrated structurally and functionally to support the process of ovulation, fertilisation, pregnancy, childbirth and child care. Ovaries are the primary female sex organs that produce the female gamete, the ovum.
The ovaries are located on each side of the lower abdomen. The ovary is an elliptical structure
about 2-4 cm long. Each ovary is covered by a thin cuboidal epithelium called the germinal
epithelium which encloses the ovarian stroma.
The stroma is differentiated into the outer cortex and inner medulla. Below the germinal epithelium is
a dense connective tissue, the tunica albuginea. The cortex appears dense and granular due
to the presence of ovarian follicles in various stages of development.
The medulla is a loose connective tissue with abundant blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and nerve fibres. The ovary remains attached to the pelvic wall and the uterus by an ovarian ligament
The fallopian tubes (uterine tubes or oviducts), uterus and vagina constitute the female accessory organs. Each fallopian tube extends from the periphery of each ovary to the uterus. The proximal
part of the fallopian tube bears a funnel-shaped infundibulum.
The edges of the infundibulum have many finger-like projections called fimbriae which help in the collection of the ovum after ovulation.
The infundibulum leads to a wider central portion called the ampulla. The last part of the
the oviduct is the isthmus which is short and thick-walled connecting the ampulla and
infundibulum to the uterus.
The uterus or womb is a hollow, thick-walled, muscular, highly vascular and inverted pear-shaped structure lying in the pelvic cavity between the urinary bladder and rectum. The major portion of the uterus is the body and the rounded region superior to it, is the fundus.
The uterus opens into the vagina through a narrow cervix. The cavity of the cervix is called the
cervical canal communicates with the vagina through the external orifice and with the uterus
through the internal orifice.
The cervical canal along with the vagina forms the birth canal. The wall of the uterus has three layers of tissues. The outermost thin membranous serous layer is called the perimetrium, the middle thick muscular layer is called the myometrium and the inner glandular layer is called the endometrium.
The endometrium undergoes cyclic changes during the menstrual cycle while the myometrium exhibits strong contractions during parturition. The vagina is a large fibromuscular tube that extends from the cervix to the exterior.
It is the female organ of copulation.
The female reproductive structures that lie external to
the vagina are called the external genitalia or vulva comprising labia majora, labia minora, hymen and clitoris.
The Bartholin’s glands (also called greater vestibular glands) are located posterior to the left and right of the opening of the vagina. They secrete mucus to lubricate the vagina and are homologous to the
bulbourethral glands of the male.
The Skene’s glands are located on the anterior wall of the vagina and around the lower end of the urethra. They secrete a lubricating fluid and are homologous to the prostate gland of males. The external opening of the vagina is partially closed by a thin ring of tissue called the hymen.
The hymen is often torn during the first coitus (physical union). However, in some women, it remains intact. It can be stretched or torn due to a sudden fall or jolt and also during strenuous physical activities such as cycling, horseback riding, etc., and therefore cannot be considered an indicator
of a woman’s virginity.