The female reproductive system is a group of organs responsible for reproduction (that’s making babies). They are mainly present in the woman’s lower abdomen. In order to understand the disorders and diseases, we should first know the anatomy – that’s the structure – and physiology – that’s the function – of these organs. We should know what’s normal before you know what’s abnormal. And I will be discussing some normal aspects of the female reproductive system in this video.
In this illustration the model stands in the standard anatomical position, and the reproductive system is seen here in the lower abdomen. Also there are two section views of the reproductive system.
One is longitudinal/frontal, and here we are looking at the inside of a woman’s body from the front side. We can see the uterus – or womb –, which is similar to a goat’s head with two horns. These horns are the fallopian tubes, which transport the egg – or the ovum – that comes out from the nearby ovaries. Also, there are two ovaries, one on each side, attached to the uterus by bands – or ligaments. We can also see the thick uterine wall, which contains muscles all over the interior side. And it’s called the endometrium. The endometrium is where the growing baby, or the foetus, gets implanted, like a small seed, and that’s where the placenta starts to form.
There’s also a side-view of the uterus. As if we’ve cut an orange into two halves and now are looking from the side on the inside of it. This side-view shows additional organs, and I will explain more on this model. As we can see on the side-view of the female pelvis, this is the frontal abdominal wall that consists of skin, fat and muscles, and this is the backside, where the buttocks are. Down there are the reproductive organs that we will talk about.
Parts 11 and 12 are labia minora and labia majora respectively. Along with the clitoris – number 13 – they are rich in nerve endings, which are responsible for sexual pleasure. At the vaginal opening you’ll find two small glands that you will not normally feel unless they get swollen or inflamed. These are called the Bartholin’s Glands, which lubricate the vagina by producing secretions called mucus. Around these external organs you’ll find hairs that mechanically protect the reproductive system from microbes and harmful elements. That pubic hair also carries the personal smell of the pheromones that make a woman attractive to her partner.
We see here the vagina – and you will notice that it’s going up and leaning slightly backward – and then the uterus. Right inside the vagina there’s the hymen, which is a membrane and can be sometimes not very easy to locate. It is not easy to break the hymen with the daily activities like sports, and sometimes it doesn’t rupture at all until your first vaginal childbirth.
Up here we have the cervix of the uterus. Did you notice that the vagina is leaning backwards and then the uterus is resting forwards? Why do we need to know that? A different uterine position can affect the woman’s fertility and is an abnormality or a defect that is probably present since birth.
Also during pregnancy, when the uterus is enlarged, you will find that the uterus is pressing on the urinary bladder, and this may cause frequent urination and sometimes bladder infections.
The myometrium of the uterus – that’s the muscle layer – is the layer of the uterus where the smooth muscle tumours, known as fibroids or myomas, will originate. These tumours are fairly common, especially in African and Middle-Eastern countries. It is important to know that myomas may affect your fertility and the continuation of your pregnancy. Also, myomas or fibroids in non-pregnant women can cause problems. They can cause heavy periods or press against the rectum and cause chronic constipation. That’s why if you’re a lady and you’re complaining from chronic constipation, I’d recommend that you consult your gynaecologist to rule out the presence of uterine fibroids.
Fallopian tubes and ovaries – not illustrated here tough – are also important reproductive organs. Here we have the ovary, which contains many eggs called ova – that’s the plural of ovum.
All these will be discussed in the coming videos related to women’s health. Stay with us for more on the subject.
I wish you good health!