Parts of Human Reproductive System
As the male and female reproductive organs show clear distinction in their structure and function, you can divide all the organs of human reproductive system into female reproduc-tive organs and male reproductive organs. The female reproductive structures are further grouped into two categories: the first one is that of uterus and vagina, and the second one comprises ovaries. In a similar way, the male reproductive organs are also classified as penis and testes. Let's have a brief overview of both human male and female reproductive organs:
Female Reproductive Organs
Some of the female reproductive organs are located externally, called external female reproductive structures, and the others are located internally, called in-ternal female reproductive structures. The external structures not only allow the entry of sperms into the uterus but also protect the internal organs from any kind of external damage. Here follows a list of the externally located sex organs in a woman:
Literally translated as large lips, labia majora enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs. These are large and fleshy, and you can compare them to the scrotum in males. They contain sweat and oil secreting glands and get covered with hair at the age of puberty.
As the very name suggests, these are smaller than the labia majora and may attain the width of up to two inches. Lying just inside the labia majora, they surround and cover the opening to the vagina and the urethra.
Located alongside the vaginal opening, these are involved in the secretion of fluid, called mucous.
Comparable to the penis in males, it is a small, sensitive protrusion and is located at the meeting point of the two labia minora. Being very sensitive to stimulation, it can also get erected. It is covered by a fold of skin, called prepuce, which bears resemblance with the foreskin at the end of the penis.
Here follows a brief description of the major internal female sex organs:
Based on its structure and function, vagina is also known as the birth canal. It joins the lower part of the uterus (cervix) to the outside of the body.
Also known as uterus, it is a hollow, pear-shaped internal female reproductive organ and serves as a home for the developing fetus. You can easily distinguish between two of its parts: cervix and corpus. The former is the lower part which opens into vagina, while the latter is the main body of the uterus. The corpus has the potential to expand automatically to hold a developing baby. There is a channel, passing through the cervix, which allows sperm to enter and menstrual blood to exit.
Two in number, ovaries are oval-shaped glands that are located on either side of the uterus or womb. These are the places where hormones and eggs are produced.
These narrow tubes are two in number and are attached to the upper part of the uterus. The fallopian tubes are said to serve as the passage for the ova or egg cells to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. The process of the fertilization of an egg by a sperm called conception normally occurs in these tubes. After the process of fertilization is over, the egg moves to the uterus, where it gets implanted into the lining of the uterine wall.
Male Reproductive Organs
Unlike the inside location of the major organs of female reproductive system, majority of the male reproductive organs are located outside of the body. Among these externally located structures, there include the penis, the scrotum and the testicles. Each of these is being briefly described as under:
This male organ is used in sexual intercourse and can be distinguished into three parts: the glans, the body and the root. Also known as the head of the penis, glans is a cone-shaped part attached to its end, whereas the root is attached to the wall of the abdomen. The part be-tween the glans and the root is termed as the body or the shaft of the penis. The loose layer of skin, covering the glans is known as foreskin or prepuce, which is often removed via the procedure of circumcision. At the very tip of the penis, you can locate the opening of the urethra that is used to transport semen as well as urine. A number of sensitive nerve endings are also found on the penis.
Hanging behind and below the penis, scrotum is actually a loose pouch of skin that contains testes (testicles) as well as many nerves and blood vessels. It not only plays the role of protection, but also acts as a "climate control system" for the testicles. It maintains temperature slightly cooler than the body temperature for the normal development of sperms. For contraction and relaxation, the wall of scrotum contains special muscles, thus moving the testes either closer to the body for warmth or away from it to bring the temperature down.
Also known as testicles, these are oval-shaped male reproductive organs about the size of large olives. These are accommodated and protected by the scrotum and secured at either end by a structure, called the spermatic cord. In majority of the cases, males have two testes which are responsible for making testosterone male sex hormone. In addition, the generation of sperms is also the responsibility of these oval organs. If you dissect the testicles, you will find coiled masses of tubes, termed as seminiferous tubules that are involved in the production of sperm cells.
The Urethra, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, bulbourethral glands, ejaculatory ducts, vas deferens and epididymis are grouped as the internal male reproduc-tive organs. To have a better understanding of these important structures, go through the brief description of each of these as given below:
This tubular structure, running along the length of the penis, has to perform two essential functions. Firstly, it carries urine from the bladder and empties it outside of the body. Secondly, it is assigned the secondary function of ejaculating semen when the man reaches orgasm. When, during sexual intercourse the penis gets erected, the flow of urine is blocked from urethra, thus allowing only semen to be ejaculated at orgasm.
Formed from the fusion of the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles, the ejaculatory ducts empty their contents into the urethra.
These sac-like pouches are found attached to the vas deferens near the base of the bladder. These are concerned with the production of a sugar-rich fluid, called fructose, which acts as a source of energy for the movement of the sperms. The most of the volume of a male's ejaculatory fluid or ejaculate is contributed by the fluid of these seminal vesicles.
The long muscular tube that travels from the epididymis into the pelvic cavity, to just behind the bladder is known as vas deferens. In the process of ejaculation, the vas deferens transports the mature sperms to the urethra.
Resting on the backside of each of the testicles, epididymis is a long coiled tube and is involved in the transportation and storage of sperm cells that are produced in the testes. Since the sperms that emerge from testes are immature and incapable of fertilization, it is the additional job of the epididymis to bring them to maturity. The contractions, during sexual arousal, force the sperm into the vas deferens.
Located below the urinary bladder in front of the scrotum, it is a walnut-sized structure that contributes additional fluid to the ejaculate. The prostate fluids, added to the ejaculate, play their part in nourishing the sperm. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate gland, and carries the ejaculate which is to be expelled during the orgasm.
These pea-sized structures are also known as Cowper's glands and are located just below the prostate gland on the sides of the urethra. The clear, slippery fluid produced by these glands, is emptied directly into the urethra. The primary function of the fluid is to lubricate the urethra and to neutralize any acidity caused by the residual drops of urine present in the urethra.