The Female Reproductive System in Health and Disease

Introduction to the structure of individual organs of the female reproductive system: Ovaries (egg and ovulation, the corpus luteum). Fallopian tubes. Uterus: The upper part, the body of the uterus (corpus uteri. The lower, narrower part of the uterus is called cervix of the uterus (cervix uteri). Structure of the uterus. Vagina, vulva and perineum. Supportive tissues.

The ovaries are two small oval, almond-shaped glands (4 × 2 × 1 cm) located in the pelvic portion of the abdomen on either side of the uterus (Figs. 1.1a and 1.1b). They are attached to the uterus and the body wall by ligaments. Ovaries produce eggs, e.g., “ova” and secrete female sexual hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries are covered by a single layer of epithelial cells and beneath this layer ova are produced. The baby girl is born with about 60,000 ova. Each of these ova has the potential to mature, but only about 400 of them mature for fertilization during women lifetime. The process of maturation takes place in a small sack with cells filled with fluid that is called ovarian follicle. As the ovum matures, the cells in the follicular wall start secreting estrogen. When the ovum matured, the follicle ruptures and expels the ovum out of the follicle. This process is called ovulation. The ovum is then swept into the fallopian tube and starts its journey towards the uterus. After the ovum has been expelled, the remaining follicle is transformed into yellowish body called corpus luteum. This structure continues to secret the hormone estrogen, and starts secreting the other female hormone, progesterone. In case the egg is fertilized it continues hormonal secretion for the next three months, when the placenta takes over; if fertilization does not take place, corpus luteum degenerates (Fig. 1.1a and 1.1b) [68, 80, 87, 158].


Cervical Cancer Human Papilloma Virus Corpus Luteum Bacterial Vaginosis Pelvic Inflammatory Disease 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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