Female Anatomy and Physiology
Most organs and structures associated with the female reproductive system are located inside her body, within the pelvic area.
Vagina – The opening of the vagina is located between the urethra (bladder opening) and the anus (rectal opening). The vagina itself is a muscular tube several inches long running parallel between the back of the bladder and rectum. It is normally collapsed.
Cervix – The cervix is located at the top end of the vagina. It is composed of connective tissue with some muscular components. It has is a very small opening, the os, that allows entry to the uterus. This is the opening through which the menstrual blood flows out of the uterus into the vagina. Also, this is the opening through which sperm will enter the uterus and a baby is delivered during a vaginal birth.
Uterus – The cervix is firmly attached to the uterus, which is the very muscular organ located behind the bladder. The lining of the uterus (endometrium) is shed during the bleeding phase of the menstrual cycle. Also, it is in the uterus where a baby develops and grows during pregnancy.
Fallopian tubes – There are 2 fallopian tubes, one located at each upper end of the uterus. These are slender structures up to 4 inches long. At the free end of the fallopian tubes are finger-like structures called fimbriae. When the egg (ovum) is released from the ovary, the fimbriae help sweep it into the tubes. The fallopian tubes are located very close to the ovaries, but are not attached to them.
Ovaries – The ovaries are usually located very deep inside the pelvis, behind the uterus. They produce the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Through a complex feedback mechanism, these hormones work together with the brain and the uterus to regulate the menstrual cycle and other processes unique to women.
Danforth’s Obstetrics & Gynecology, 8th Edition. Editors Scott JR, et al. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia. 1999.
Gynecologic Pearls. 2nd Edition. Benson, MD. F.A. Davis Company. Philadelphia. 2000.
Female Reproductive System Illustration: Before You Decide – An Abortion Education Resource. Care Net. Sterling, Virginia. 2002.