is the production of offsprings. ‘Re’ is Latin word. It means ‘again’.
Reproductive system is the system responsible for formation of progeny of sons
and daughters and their proper brought up till they are capable to reproduce.
A sagittal section through female pelvis
showing parts of female reproductive system
female reproductive system consists of internal and external reproductive
reproductive organs are situated within lesser pelvis. They include:
ovaries, right and left.
uterine tubes, right and left.
are the primary sex organs. Here the female gametes are formed.
tubes transport mature male and female gametes. These are sites where male and
female gametes unite to form a fertilized ovum or zygote. Zygote is converted
into morula and shifted to uterine cavity.
Uterus. Here morula is converted into
blastocyst. It is the site of implantation of blastocyst. This blastocyst
matures into fetus. The fetus grows and remains in uterus for nine months.
is the organ of copulation. The fetus is also born through this canal.
external reproductive organs are usually called external genitalia. They are
antero-inferior to the pubic arch and they include the mons pubis, the labia
majora, labia minora, clitoris, the bulb of the vestibule,
the greater vestibular glands, and the vestibule itself.
Parts of female
are paired almond-shaped structures situated one on each side of uterus close
to the lateral pelvic wall. They are attached to the posterior aspect of broad
ligament of uterus near its upper limit by a double fold of peritoneum, behind
and below the lateral part of uterine tubes. This double fold of peritoneum is
like testes, develop from genital ridge. In embryonic and early fetal life the
ovaries are, like the testes, situated in the lumbar region near the kidneys,
but they gradually descend into the lesser pelvis.
are grayish-pink in the living. The surface is smooth before regular ovulation
begins, but after the start of reproductive life surface of the ovaries become
distorted by the scaring which follows the degeneration of successive corpora
ovary is about 3 cm long, 1.5 cm wide and 1 cm thick.
position varies much in women who have borne children; the ovaries are
displaced in the first pregnancy and usually never return to their original
dear students we will now describe the ovary of a nulliparous woman (who has
not yet borne children).
ovary occupies the ovarian fossa, on the lateral pelvic wall, bounded
anteriorly by the obliterated umbilical artery and posteriorly by the ureter
and internal iliac artery.
to its upper, tubal extremity, are the ovarian fimbria
of the uterine tube. The uterine (inferior) extremity is attached to the
lateral angle of the uterus by a rounded ovarian ligament.
MICROSTRUCTURE OF THE OVARY
covering of the ovary is composed mainly of cuboidal cells bearing microvilli,
although there is also a scattered group of flattened epithelial cells with
fewer microvilli, which may represent cells reacting to epithelial injury
caused by ovulation. So before reproductive life the surface epithelium is
simple cuboidal epithelium. As the reproductive life begins patches of simple
squamous epithelium replace.
gives the ovary a dull gray surface, contrasting with the shining, smooth
peritoneum of the mesovarium. A white line around the anterior or mesovarian
border usually marks the transition between peritoneum and ovarian epithelium.
epithelium appears to take an active part in the repair of the ovarian surface
after ovulation by reforming the epithelial rent and reconstituting the
Stained with Hematoxyline and
epithelium is very delicate and easily damaged by manipulation. About 85% of ovarian
cancers arise from neoplastic changes in the surface epithelium.
beneath the epithelium, there is a tough collagenous coat called tunica
mass of the ovary is divisible into cortex and medulla. The medulla forms the
central core and the cortex surrounds the medulla except at the hilum. The
hilum is on the uterine extremity and is continuous with rounded ovarian
ligament. The hilum receives the vessels and nerves.
is cellular connective tissue. It means loose connective tissue with abundant
cells. It contains primordial follicles only before puberty. After puberty it
contains the ovarian follicles of various sizes and corpora lutea and their
degenerative remnants called albicans, depending on the stage of menstrual
cycle or age. The follicles and their products are embedded in a dense
fibrocellular stroma composed of interwoven, thin collagen fibers and many
fusiform, fibroblast-like or mesenchymal cells arranged in characteristic swirls.
is vascular connective tissue. It means loose connective tissue with lot off
vessels. This central zone is highly vascular, consisting of numerous veins and
spiral arteries set in a loose connective tissue stroma, with many elastin
fibers, pericytes and some smooth muscle fibers. The vessels enter the hilum
from the mesovarium. The medulla is much more vascular than the cortex.
The Postmenopausal ovary
the change in hormonal state at the menopause (usually in 45-55 years),
ovulation ceases and various microscopic changes ensue within the ovarian
tissues. The stroma becomes denser, the tunica albuginea thickens and the
ovarian surface epithelium thins out. However, many follicles persist within
the cortex, some of them without oocytes, but others apparently normal,
providing the possibility of ovulation if the hormonal changes were to be
reversed. Some abnormal follicles may become cystic as age progresses. This is
quite a common feature in later years.
ovaries and uterine tubes are supplied by the ovarian arteries, which are
branches of the abdominal aorta.
veins emerge from the ovarian hila as a pampiniform plexus, which form
the ovarian veins. The right ovarian vein opens in inferior vena cava and left
drains into left renal vein.
primarily to the lumbo-aortic and pelvic lymph nodes, although it is reported
that after the menopause the flow of lymph is reduced and it drains mainly to
the lumbo-aortic nodes.
innervation, is derived from the ovarian plexuses. Postganglionic
sympathetic, parasympathetic fibers and autonomic afferent fibers innervate
ovaries. but little is known of their actual
distribution or function, particularly in humans.
birth, the cortex contains a superficial zone of primordial follicles; these
consist of primary oocytes (about 25 mm in diameter) surrounded by a single
layer of flat follicular cells. Primary oocyte is in dictyotene phase. Many primordial
follicles degenerate during childhood. Their remnants are visible as atretic
follicles. After puberty, relatively small numbers of primordial follicles
undergo a series of developmental changes. Only one follicle from either ovary
comes to full maturity and releases its oocyte (ovulation) for transport into
the uterine tube potentially for fertilization.
primary oocyte surrounded by zona pellucida and a single layer of cuboidal
cells is called primary follicle.
are never present before puberty. After puberty in each menstrual cycle 5-12
primordial follicles start maturing. The primary oocyte (still in dictyotene
phase) begins to increase in size, while the single continuous layer of
flattened follicular cells surrounding it becomes the single continuous layer
of cuboidal follicular cells.
primary oocyte secretes a thick layer of deeply staining acellular homogeneous
membrane of glycoproteins, between its surface and the surrounding follicular
cells. This homogeneous membrane is called zona pellucida.
the follicular cells have become cuboidal and the zona pellucida has formed the
follicle is now known as primary follicle.
small finger-like processes of the follicular cells extend across the zona
pellucida and interdigitate with the microvilli of the primary oocyte cell
membrane. These processes are thought to be important for the transport of
materials from the follicular cells to the oocyte.
As the follicles continue to grow, the cuboidal follicular cells
multiply and proliferate and form a stratified cuboidal epithelium resting on a
basement membrane. The cells constituting the epithelium are now given the name
granulosa cells. These cells are in functional contact with each other through
gap junctions. Theca folliculi is forming around the developing follicle. The
follicle is now known as secondary
cavity or antrum develops in granulosa cells.
granulosa cells continue to proliferate and multiply. As the mass of cells
continues to increase, spaces appear between them. These spaces are filled with
clear fluid called liquor folliculi. The fluid contains hyaluran,
growth factors and the hormonal secretions of the granulosa cells.
spaces coalesce with one another and a crescent shaped cavity or antrum is
formed in such a way that the primary oocyte, along with some granulosa cells,
is pushed to one side. The follicle is now given the name tertiary follicle or
follicle is now about 200 mm.
With the passage of time the cavity enlarges. Theca folliculi is now clearly
defined. It consists of an inner layer called theca interna and an outer layer
called theca externa.
cells and theca cells produce estrogens.
fluid continues to increase and the follicle increases. The fully mature
tertiary follicle is called Gra’afian follicle. The antrum is very large. At
maturity, the follicle may be 10 mm or more in diameter.
folliculi is well developed. It is composed of cells having characteristics of
steroid secretion, rich in blood vessels, and the theca externa, which
gradually merges with the ovarian stroma.
primary oocyte and its surrounding granulosa cells form a bump in the antrum.
This bump is known as cumulus oophorus or ovaricus. Primary oocyte shows spindle formation of
first meiotic division.
follicle forms a bump on the surface of the ovary.
follicle, highly diagrammatic.
(ah-tre’ze-ah) [a neg. + Gr. tresis
a hold + -ia] congenital
absence or closure of a normal body orifice or tubular organ.
[Gr. atretos not perforated] spacing without an
opening; pertaining to or characterized by atresia.
showing the development of follicles, ovulation and formation of corpus luteum
occurs at all stages of follicles.
oocytes and primordial follicles are maximum in number
at 5 months gestation. They are nearly 7 million. They are reduced to about 2
million at birth. Postnatally, further degeneration occurs so that by puberty
only about 40,000 oocytes remain.
the 40,000 oocytes remaining at puberty only about 400 become secondary oocytes
and undergo ovulation during the reproductive years. The
rest, after being activated to the primary follicle, degenerate before
Gra’afian follicle at any stage as atretic follicles.
first sign of atresia is the appearance of pyknotic nuclei in the granulose
cell. The remnant of the follicle is invaded by blood vessels, macrophages and
connective tissue, which ultimately replaces the follicle, converting it into a
small white fibrous body.
STRUCTURE OF THE UTERUS
uterus and intrauterine life The Creator says in Qur’an that:
created you from a single person (Adam), then from that HE created his mate
(wife Hawwa) and HE sent down for you eight pairs of
cattle, male and female. HE shapes you in your mother’s wombs, giving you one
form after the other, under three dark veils. This is ALLAH, your
RAB: sovereignty is HIS: there is no ILAH but HE.
Whence are you, then, being turned away?
Az-Zumar. Surah 39. Ayah 6. Para 23.
embryo passes from one stage of development to another within three covers
which have been expressed in Qur’an as three
with its chorionic and amniotic membranes
wall of the uterus also consists of three layers:
It is the serosa of the uterus. It consists of a single layer of flattened
cells with loose connective tissue.
A thick layer of smooth muscle cells, consisting of inner longitudinal
layer (stratum subvascularae), middle circular
layer (stratum vascularae) and outer
longitudinal layer (stratum supravascularae).
It consists of simple columnar epithelium, lamina propria and glands.
During secretary phase of menstrual cycle,
three layers of endometrium are distinguished.
- A thin
superficial compact layer consisting of densely packed, stromal cells
around the straight necks of the glands;
thick sponge layer composed of edematous stroma containing dilated
tortuous bodies of the glands. The arteries are also highly tortuous here.
- A thin
basal layer containing the blind ends of the glands. This basal layer has
its own blood supply also. This layer is not sloughed off during
compact and sponge layers, disintegrate and are shed off during menstruation
and parturition (delivery of a baby), and so together they are commonly called
Microscopic Picture of Endometrium
in secretary phase.
Blood supply of the uterus:
two uterine arteries run along the lateral border of uterus and give regularly
branches, which enter the myometrium of the uterus. These branches reach the
stratum vascularae of mymetrium.
Here they anastomose and form a circular network of blood vessels throughout
this stratum. This circular network of blood vessels now gives rise to vessels
supplying supravascular and subvascular
layers of myometrium.
circular network also gives rise to two different sets of vessels supplying the
set consists of long spiral arteries and run through the whole thickness of
endometrium. These arteries are under hormonal control. They are highly coiled
in spongy layer and relatively straight in basal and compact layers. These
supply all three layers of endometrium.
other set consists of short straight arteries and supply basal layer of
endometrium only. These arteries remain in basal layer and never go beyond the
tubes are also called Fallopian tubes. There are two uterine tubes, right and
left, situated in the upper margins of the broad ligaments of the uterus. Each
tube is 10 cm long. Its medial end opens into the superior angle of the uterine
cavity. Its lateral end opens into the peritoneal cavity close to the ovary.
A sagittal section through female pelvis
showing parts of female reproductive system
The uterine ostium or opening is very small,
and admits only a fine bristle, the opening into the peritoneal cavity is named
the abdominal ostium and when its muscular wall is relaxed has a diameter of
about 3 mm.
The abdominal opening is situated at the
bottom of the trumpet-shaped expansion of the uterine tube, the infundibulum,
the circumference of which is prolonged by a varying number of irregular
processes, called fimbriae, and therefore this extremity of the tube is also
called fimbriated end. One fimbria is longer and more deeply grooved than the
others. It is closely applied to the tubal extremity of the ovary and is named
as ovarian fimbria.
The infundibulum leads to the ampullary part of
the tube which is thin walled and tortuous and forms rather more than one-half
of the tube. The ampulla is succeeded by the isthmus, which is rounded and cord
like. The isthmus constitutes approximately the medial one-third of the
tube. Then the uterine tube enters the wall of uterus, runs through it and
opens at the superior angle of the cavity of the uterus. It is 1 cm long and is
named the uterine part or intramural part of the uterine tube.
Parts of female
tubes transmit ova from the ovaries to the cavity of the uterus. They are also
the sites of fertilization, which occurs in the ampullary part. In the uterine tube, ova fertilized on non-fertilized, travel
medially towards the uterus while sperms travel laterally from the uterus towards