Whatever your circumstance – whether you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, have ever been pregnant, have ever wanted (or not wanted!) to get pregnant – if you’re a woman, it’s likely that at one time or another you’ve wondered about the female reproductive system. What are all those parts and how do they work? It’s probably been a while since high school health or biology classes, so here’s a refresher. Whether or not there’s a specific reason you may be thinking about it, this information is good for every woman to understand.
Before we begin, however, – is there a particular reason this is on your mind? Have you recently discovered you’re pregnant – or suspect you might be? If that’s the case, and pregnancy was not part of your plan at this time, we have additional information and a resource to offer you: Avenue Women’s Center. An unplanned pregnancy is exactly that – unwanted, or perhaps ill-timed. Even though unplanned and unwanted, it won’t just go away; it needs to be addressed and decisions must be made. These are often not easy decisions; that’s why Avenue Women’s Center exists. First of all, to confirm (or unconfirm) the pregnancy, we can provide for you a free medical-grade pregnancy test that’s 99.5% accurate just ten days after the possible time of conception. If the test is positive, we offer other needed services – many at no cost to you – as you navigate your next steps. We hope you will contact us to set up a free, private, and confidential appointment for a pregnancy test and consultation. You don’t have to make this journey alone.
Now to the original topic of this post: The Female Reproductive System. Here are the major internal organs of the female reproductive system.
- The vagina is a muscular tube or canal (also called the vaginal or birth canal), with an opening that connects from outside the body into the cervix, the lower part of the uterus.
- The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. As the narrow passage between the uterus and the vagina, it is a muscular organ that can expand and contract. It dilates widely (effaces / widens) for the delivery of a pregnancy. When terminating a pregnancy, the cervix must be dilated under supervision of a medical professional. At the time of each menstrual period if there is no pregnancy, the cervix opens a small amount for the menstrual flow to pass through.
- The uterus, or womb, is a pear-shaped organ in the center of the pelvic structure. If the egg of the female is fertilized by the sperm of the male, the fertilized egg will implant in the tissue which lines the wall of the uterus. There it will receive nourishment from the uterine lining and begin to develop. The uterus stretches and expands throughout the pregnancy as it grows.
- Coming out from the top of the uterus are the Fallopian tubes. There are two, one on each side of the uterus. It is through these narrow tubes that the egg travels from the ovaries down to the uterus. Fertilization of the egg usually happens in the Fallopian tubes.
- There are two ovaries, each located at the end of a Fallopian tube. Here a woman’s ova, or egg cells, are produced. Once a month, an ovary releases an egg into the Fallopian tube. The egg will then travel down through the tube to the uterus. The ovaries, which are small, oval-shaped glands, also produce and send hormones into the woman’s system.
Next question: What is the sequence of events that result in pregnancy?
A woman of reproductive age experiences a menstrual cycle about every 28 days or once a month. The cycle has several phases. The first phase begins with the first day of menstrual bleeding. At this time hormones are released to prepare for a possible pregnancy. Inside the ovaries, an egg is being prepared for ovulation.
The next phase is the ovulatory phase, when the egg is released from the ovary. Ovulation occurs at the midpoint of the cycle, about two weeks after the first day of menstrual bleeding.
In the final phase, if intercourse has occurred and the egg is fertilized by the male’s sperm, the pregnancy has begun. The fertilized egg will travel down the Fallopian tube and implant in the lining of the uterus. New cells will rapidly begin to develop.
If the egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining is not needed to support a pregnancy. The egg passes through, and the lining is shed, resulting in menstruation, the beginning of the next menstrual cycle.
A woman’s menstrual cycles continue to repeat each month until she reaches menopause and the end of her fertility. Although the time of menopause can vary, this usually happens at about age 51.
So there are the basics of the female reproductive system. This brings us back to our question about the reason for your interest. If you’re asking about the female reproductive system because you are facing an unintended or ill-timed pregnancy, it may be it’s more than just the logistics of how pregnancy occurs that you need to be thinking about. Again, we invite you to call on us for the additional assistance and support you need for what’s ahead for you. We are a first step for women as they’re looking into their options, including the important decision of whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy. Our services are designed to provide you with the early care and support you need as you assess and move forward with your pregnancy decision.
Please contact us by phone, text, email or chat. We look forward to walking with you as you navigate through this challenging time.
- ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). (2015, May). Your First Period (Especially for Teens). Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-First-Period-Especially-for-Teens
- WebMD. (2016, December). Your Guide to the Female Reproductive System. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/your-guide-female-reproductive-system#1
- The Free Dictionary > Medical Dictionary. Retrieved from: https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cervix
- American Pregnancy Association. (2016, October). Understanding Ovulation. Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/understanding-ovulation/
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.