Female Reproduction Reproductive System The female reproductive system is essential for human reproduction. There are two main parts to the female reproductive system which are the uterus and ovaries. The uterus is used to accommodate a developing fetus, produce vaginal and uterine secretions, and pass male's sperm to the fallopian tubes.  The ovaries are a gland that produces eggs. The mass majority of eggs within ovaries gradually die, until they are depleted during menopause. At birth, a female has approximately 1 million eggs. Starting at puberty, eggs mature, and one breaks through the ovarian wall about every 28 days in the process known as ovulation. The eggs continue to degenerate during pregnancy, with the use of birth control pills, and in the presence or absence of menstrual cycles. Fallopian tubes have small hair-like projections called cilia on the lining. These l cilia are necessary to the movement of an egg through the tube, and into the uterus. If the cilia are damaged by infection, the egg may not progress along, and stay in the tube. Infection can also cause partial or complete blockage of the tube, physically preventing the egg from moving to the uterus. Any process such as, endometriosis, infection, tumors, or scar tissue, damages the Fallopian tube or narrows its diameter and  increases the chance of an ectopic pregnancy which is  a pregnancy that develops in the Fallopian tube or another abnormal location outside the uterus. Cervical mucus increases, and becomes thinner with a more stretchy consistency in order to facilitate the transport of sperm into the uterus. The uterine structure must be anatomically suitable for the successful implantation of an embryo. Abnormalities of the uterus include a wall in the center of the uterine body called a Septum, a one- sided or banana shaped uterus called Unicornate, or Bicornate which is two banana shaped uteri side by side; may end at one or have two cervices and vaginas. Terms Vagina– Muscular, membranous tube that connects external genitalia with cervix and uterus; also called birth canal. The vagina provides passageway for sperm, menstrual flow and fetus during childbirth Cervix– Neck of uterus that extends down into the vagina; it dilates during labor Uterus– Hollow muscular organ at upper end of vagina; also called womb; sheds endometrium lining during menstruation and holds fetus during pregnancy Fallopian Tubes– Connect ovaries to uterus; transports the ovum to the uterus Ovary– Almond sized and shaped gland that produces eggs Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)– Secreted by the anterior pituitary to help follicles mature Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – Secreted by the anterior pituitary hormone that regulates menstrual cycle and completes maturation of follicles Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRh) – Secreted by hypothalamus; stimulates the release of FSH and LH from pituitary gland Estrogen– Produced by ovaries; helps female genital tract suitable for fertilization, implantation and embryonic nutrition Progesterone– Secreted by Corpus Luteum; prepares endometrium lining for fertilization Corpus Luteum– Endocrine organ structure on the ovary surface; maintains the uterine endometrium Endometrium– Mucous membrane lining the uterus; changes in thickness structure with menstrual cycle Fertilization- Act or process of initiating biological reproduction References Como, D. (2006). Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Professions (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO. Mosby Elsevier Hogan, M. A. (2008).  Comprehensive Review For NCLEX-RN. Saddle River, NJ. Prentice Hall Nihira, M. (2009). Your Guide to the Female Reproductive System. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/female-reproductive-system-overview

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