Knowing More about Your Reproductive-Self Female & Male Reproductive Systems

Reproductive Health

The Female Reproductive System

The organs of the female reproductive system work together to help women have their menses and enable reproduction, pregnancy, and childbirth. These organs are located inside the female body.

  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Uterus
  • Fallopian Tubes
  • The Ovaries

The Female Reproductive System

Consider your ovaries the ground control of the female reproductive anatomy. This is where the oocytes (also known as the eggs, or the female gametes) and the sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, are made and released. Inside the ovaries are ovarian follicles: tiny sack-like structures that each holds a single primary oocyte (an incomplete/immature egg), surrounded by supportive follicle cells. Females are born with around 1 million premature eggs inside of their primordial follicles, which amounts to all of the eggs that they will ever produce. At birth, the eggs stop developing and are stuck in this limbo stage until it is their time to be released to the fallopian tubes, once per month after the start of puberty.

The fallopian tubes are two muscly tubes, about 10cm long on either side of the uterus. They are made up of smooth muscle and a highly folded mucosal layer. They are not actually connected to the ovaries, so when the egg pushes through the ovary, it has to float around until it is caught by the finger-like projections of the fallopian tube. Here, it can be fertilized by the sperm. Whether or not it is fertilized, the egg will then travel down through the tube to the uterus.

The uterus is a hollow and very stretchy and muscular organ with thick walls. It is where the fertilized egg will implant and grow into a fetus. The uterus is composed of three layers: the perimetrium on the outside, the bulky smooth muscle myometrium that contracts during labour, and the endometrium, the inner mucosal lining. In response to hormones released during your reproductive cycle, the mucosal lining will thicken so that a fertilized egg can implant itself. If implantation does not occur, the uterine lining will shed as menstrual flow.

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. It is a cylindrical opening made of fibrous muscle tissue.

The vagina, also known as the birth canal, is the canal that joins the cervix to the outside of the body. This is where the penis enters to insert sperm, which will travel through the vagina, the cervix, and the uterus, all the way to the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg. This is also where the uterine lining is shed to the outside of the body during menstruation.

Reproductive Health

The Male Reproductive System

The majority of organs of the male reproductive system are located outside the body.

External male reproductive organs include:

  • Penis
  • Scrotum
  • Testicles

Internal reproductive organs include:

  • Epididymis
  • Vas Derferens
  • Urethra

The Male Reproductive System

The testes are the gonads of the male, which are tasked with making male gametes (sperm). The testes have to dangle outside of the body cavity in the scrotum because they must be kept at a lower temperature to properly grow. A mature male can produce 1500 sperm per second.

Once the sperm leave the testes, they go through the epididymis, a long set of tubes behind the testes. Here, they will travel through the tubes for a few weeks while they mature and become active.

The Vas Deferens is a part of the spermatic cord. Inside the spermatic cord are a testicular artery, vein, and nerve fibres. The Vas Deferens is a tube that travels up behind the bladder and joins with the duct from the seminal gland to create the ejaculatory duct. The left and right ejaculatory ducts pass into the prostate gland, where they empty mature sperm and associated fluids into the urethra.

The urethra is a tube that runs through the penis. Both the bladder and the prostate glands empty into the urethra to release urine or sperm, respectively, through the penis and out of the body.

The penis hangs from the perineum between the pubic bone and the coccyx. It consists of a shaft that ends in a large tip called the glans penis, surrounded by a fleshy cuff of foreskin (in uncircumcised males). Inside, the penis is filled with a spongy network of connective tissue and smooth muscle, full of vascular spaces that can fill with blood during sexual arousal, making the penis expand and become rigid (an erection). This is what helps the penis penetrate the vagina and eventually release sperm into the fallopian tubes through the cervix, where they can combine to form a fertilized egg.