The human body is made up of several cells, tissues, organs and organ systems for different life processes such as the respiratory system for respiration, circulatory system for circulation, the digestive system for digestion, etc. Every single organism ensures its continuation on earth by a life process called reproduction. The organ system which helps in reproduction is known as the reproductive system.
The reproductive system or genital system is a set of internal and external sex organs in an individual which helps to reproduce. Since it helps in the existence of a species, it is a vital organ system in the human body. It varies in size and shape among male and female individuals but still, there are similarities like both female and male reproductive system arise from the same group of embryonic cells.
Male Reproductive System
Men have their own role in reproduction and the reproductive system includes the following:
Testicles (testes): A paired oval shaped organ masked in a pouch called scrotum; where the male gamete (sex cell) –sperm production by seminiferous tubules and male hormones-testosterone production by Leydig cells initiates.
Duct system/accessory ducts (epididymis, vas deferens): Next to testes lie epididymis and vas deferens- accessory ducts of the male reproductive system.
- Epididymis: The coiled tube behind the testes which is responsible for the storage and transport of sperm. It also takes the burden of maturation of sperm released from testicles.
- Vas deferens: A muscular tube which passes sperm from epididymis to urethra for ejaculation.
Accessory glands (seminal vesicles, prostate gland, and bulbourethral/Cowper’s gland): Semen are formed when sperm mixes with fluids produced by three glands namely:
- Seminal vesicles
- Prostate gland
- Bulbo-urethral/Cowper’s gland.
The main function is to nourish the sperm, increase the semen volume and lubrication.
Penis: A cylindrically shaped tube which serves as both reproductive organ as well as excretory organ. A penis is an organ which is made up of spongy tissues/erectile tissues and vascular spaces which when filled with blood leads to erection and helps in penetration during coitus.
The male reproductive system mostly consists of external genitals, unlike female reproductive system.
In a nutshell, functions of a male reproductive system are:
- Production, transportation, and storage of sperm.
- Ejection of sperm.
- Production and secretion of male hormones-testosterone.
Female Reproductive System
The responsibility of a female reproductive system does not just limit to sexual intercourse. The female reproductive system is active before, during and as well as after fertilization.
Internal genitals of the female reproductive system include:
- Ovaries: Paired female gonads which are small and oval shaped located on both sides of the uterus. It produces the ovum –female gamete as well as female sex hormone estrogen.
- Uterine (Fallopian) tubes: Also known as oviducts. They are the narrow tubes which receive the egg released by ovaries; also, the site for fertilization of ova and then passes to the uterus.
- Uterus (womb): Pear-shaped home for growing fetus. Out of two sections of uterus main part is known as corpus which is expandable for a growing baby. The other part is cervix, the route to a vagina and open gate for sperm entry.
Vagina: It is the part which connects cervix to external female body parts. It is the route for penis during coitus as well as the fetus during delivery.
External genitals outside the vagina together termed as Vulva which includes:
- Labia: A small opening on both side of vagina made of two-layered skin. The large and thick set is called as labia majora and the smaller flap inside is called as labia minora. The labia contain certain sweat and oil-secreting glands and extended to a hairy part called mons pubis.
- Bartholin’s glands: The gland sided to vagina opening with the purpose of mucus secretion for lubrication during coitus.
- Clitoris: the Reproductive organ in the female which is analogous to the penis in the male. It is a folded skin at the junction of two labia.
- Breast: An external reproductive part in the female body other than vulva which consists of mammary gland and fats. The purpose of the mammary gland in women is lactation.
Overall, the female reproductive system consists of organs and structures with certain roles like ova and female sex hormone producers, nourishes and protects the fetus, etc.
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