THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS
Section I. THE FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM
a. Reproduction Defined. The mechanism by which life is maintained is
reproduction. Reproduction can be defined as the process by which a single cell
duplicates its genetic material, thus allowing an organism to grow and repair itself.
Reproduction, therefore, maintains the life of a member of a species. Additionally,
reproduction is the process by which genetic material is passed from generation to
b. Major Types of Reproduction. There are two major types of reproduction:
asexual and sexual. Only one parent is involved in asexual reproduction. The parent
cell may divide and become two new cells or the new organism may arise from a part of
the parent cell. In the case of humans, sexual reproduction takes place. This requires
the participation of two parents. Each parent produces special reproductive cells called
sex cells or gametes. In this sense, reproduction maintains the continuation of the
species. If a species loses its reproductive capability, the species no longer survives. It
c. Female Reproductive System Functions. The female reproductive system
has specialized organs to carry out its three important functions. These functions are
the production of egg cells, the disintegration of nonfertilized egg cells, and the
protection of the developing embryo.
The vulva and its parts make up the external genitalia (figure 1-1). The term
"vulva" is a term that has been designated to stand for the external genitalia of the
a. Mons Pubis. The elevated, fatty tissue covered with coarse pubic hair which
lies over the symphysis pubis is the mons pubis. Pubic hair appears at puberty. The
function of the mons pubis is to protect the pelvic bone.
b. Labia Majora. The labia majora are large, longitudinal folds of skin and fatty
tissue which extend back from the mons pubis to the anus. The outer surfaces are
covered with hair. The inner surfaces are smooth and moist. The corresponding
structure in the male is the scrotum. The function of these folds is to protect the
entrance to the vagina.