Glossary of Female and Male Reproductive System Terms and Terminology

  • Procreate: To give life to a new person
  • Genitalia: The female and male external organs of reproduction are referred to as genitalia.
  • Vagina: The female's reproductive body that joins the internal and external female reproductive organs and structures and it is the entry way for penetration during sexual intercourse
  • Uterus: The internal female reproductive structure that lies just above the vagina and houses a developing fetus during pregnancy and after fertilization.
  • Perimetrium: The layer of the uterus which covers the entire uterus
  • Myometrium: The middle layer of the uterus
  • Endometrium: The innermost layer of the uterus that has glands that secrete a substance to transport sperm and to provide a developing embryo with essential nutrients
  • Ovaries: They serve as a reproductive gland that produces ova and also an endocrine gland during pregnancy, prior to puberty and throughout the duration of time from puberty to menopause
  • Fallopian tubes: The part of the female reproductive system that is the site of the fertilization of the ovum.
  • Salpinges: An alternative name for the fallopian tubes
  • Fimbria: The hair like fringes of the fallopian tubes nearest to the ovaries
  • Ampulla: The section of the fallopian tubes that lies between the isthmus and the ampulla of the fallopian tube
  • Medulla: The innermost layer of the ovaries that contains the nerves and blood supply to the ovaries
  • Cortex: The middle layer of the ovaries that contains the follicles and ova or female eggs
  • Tunica albuginea: The outermost layer of the ovaries that protects the ovaries
  • Labia majora: The labia that form the larger and outer perimeter around the vaginal opening and the labia minora
  • Labia minora: The labia that form the smaller and inner perimeter around the vaginal opening
  • Clitoris: It lies above the vagina this structure is covered with a protective cover or hood; it is one of a female's primary organs of sexual gratification and pleasure
  • Urethral meatus: The opening to the urethra which is part of the urinary system
  • Penis: Provides sexual satisfaction and gratification to the male
  • Glans penis: The tip of the penis which is protected with foreskin unless a circumcision has been done
  • Scrotum: This sac holds and protects the testes
  • Testes: Endocrine and reproductive organs
  • Epididymis: Connects the testes and the vas deferens stores and transports and matures the sperm from the testes.
  • Vas deferens: Moves the mature sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts
  • Prostate: An exocrine gland that secretes an alkaline fluid that preserves the life of the sperm when it hits the acidic female vagina.
  • Ejaculatory Ducts: They form the union of the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles; sperm enters the ejaculatory ducts from the vas deferens.
  • Urethra: A part of both the male reproductive system and a gland of the genitourinary or urinary system
  • Follicle stimulating hormone: Produces sperm (spermatogenesis)
  • Luteinizing hormone; Produces testosterone
  • Testosterone: The hormone that leads to the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics during puberty
  • Cancer of the breast: Cancer affecting the breast tissue
  • Cervical cancer: Cancer of the cervix
  • Ovarian cancer: Cancer of the ovary
  • Vaginitis: Infection of the vagina and vaginal vault
  • Endometriosis: The growth of the lining of the uterus outside of the uterus itself
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: A serious infection of the female reproductive organs including the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the uterus and the vagina
  • Cystocele: The collapse of the urinary bladder into the vagina
  • Rectocele: The pushing of the rectum and part of the large intestine against the vaginal wall
  • Enlarged prostate: The hypertrophy of the male prostate
  • Prostate cancer: Cancer of the male prostate gland
  • Testicular cancer: Cancer of a testicle or both testes
  • Low testosterone: A low level of circulating testosterone among males
  • Erectile dysfunction: The inability of a male to have and maintain an erection

The Role of the Female and Male Reproductive Systems

The role of the male and female reproductive systems is to procreate, which means give life to a new person, and to provide sexual gratification to the person.

Because the female and male reproductive systems are so different anatomically and physiologically, they will be covered separately in this review.

The Parts of the Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system consists of both internal and external organs and parts. The internal organs and structures of the female reproductive system are the:

  • Vagina
  • Uterus
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries

The external organs and structures of the female reproductive system and some surrounding areas are the:

  • Vaginal vestibule
  • Labia majora
  • Labia minora
  • Clitoris
  • Mons pubis
  • Urethral meatus
  • Perineal body

Diagram of the female human reproductive tract and ovaries.

The Vagina

The vagina, as shown in the pictures above, joins the internal and external female reproductive organs and structures; and it is the entry way for penetration during sexual intercourse. The vagina secretes a discharge to moisten the area for sexual penetration and to protect the internal female reproductive organs against infections from the external environment.

The Uterus

Diagram showing regions of the uterus.

The uterus, as shown in the diagram above, is the internal female reproductive structure that lies just above the vagina. This organ houses a developing fetus during pregnancy and after fertilization. Without the woman being pregnant, the uterus is considered a cervical organ and with a pregnancy the uterus becomes an abdominal organ as it expands and enlarges to accommodate for the developing fetus.

The uterus, as shown in the picture above, has several parts including the external orifice, or opening, to the vagina, the cervix, which is the lower portion, and the corpus which is the body of the uterus.

Uterus and uterine tubes. (Endometrium labeled at center right).

The layers of the uterus, as shown in the picture immediately above, are the perimetrium layer of the uterus which covers the entire uterus, the myometrium which is the middle layer of the uterus and the layer and the endometrium, or innermost layer, that has glands that secrete a substance to transport sperm and to provide a developing embryo with essential nutrients.

The Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes are the part of the female reproductive system that is the site of the fertilization of the ovum. This is contrary to the belief of many that the point of fertilization is the uterus and not the fallopian tubes. After a couple of days the fertilized egg moves to the uterus where the developing fetus remains until labor and delivery. The fallopian tubes are the connection tubes between the uterus and the ovaries.

Schematic frontal view of female anatomy.

As shown in the picture above, there are two fallopian tubes bilaterally on both sides of the uterus and in close proximity to the ovaries and the uterus. These tubes, also referred to as salpinges, have several major portions which are the isthmus which is the narrowest portion of the fallopian tubes, the fimbria.

Fimbria, which are hair like fringes of fallopian tubes, lies nearest to the ovaries and the ampulla which is the section of the fallopian tubes that lies between the isthmus and the ampulla of the fallopian tube.

The Ovaries

Blood supply of the human female reproductive organs. The left ovary is the oval shaped structure visible above the label "ovarian arteries".

As shown in the picture above, there are bilateral ovaries in close proximity to the uterus. The three anatomical layers of the ovaries, from the innermost to the outermost layer are the:

  • Medulla which contains the nerves and blood supply to the ovaries is the innermost layer of the ovaries
  • Cortex which contains the follicles and ova which is the pleural form of ovum
  • Tunica albuginea which protects the delicate ovaries and is the outermost layer of the ovaries

In addition to the role of the ovaries in terms of procreation, the ovaries also serve as an endocrine gland during pregnancy, prior to puberty and throughout the duration of time from puberty to menopause. For example, the production of progesterone during pregnancy maintains and retains a developing fetus to prevent a miscarriage; the uterus processes estrogen and progesterone to maintain the female's menstrual cycle after puberty and before female menopause; and, the ovaries promote the development of female breast through their production of estrogen and progesterone.

The Vaginal Vestibule

The vaginal vestibule or vaginal opening, as shown in the picture below, is the exterior portion of the vagina, as discussed immediately above, The vaginal vestibule is an internal organ of female reproduction; it is the external potion of the vagina that is encased by the bilateral labia majora and labia minora.

The Labia

The bilateral labia majora and labia minora form the outer perimeter of the vagina; and the labia minora form the smaller and inner perimeter around the vaginal opening, as shown in the picture below and the labia majora form the larger and outer perimeter around the vaginal opening and the labia minora.

For a more detailed look at the Labia please refer to:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labia#Anatomy

The Clitoris

The clitoris, as shown below in the picture, lies above the vagina this structure is covered with a protective cover or hood. The clitoris is one of a female's primary organs of sexual gratification and pleasure and in this respect; it is highly similar to the male penis.

Mons Pubis

The mons pubis is not an organ of reproduction but it does surround these external organs. Simply stated, the mons pubis is the area of somewhat fatty tissue above the vagina and over the female's pelvic bones where pubic hair develops with puberty.

The Urethral Meatus

The urethral meatus, again, is not an external gland of female reproduction, but it is near the external female glands of reproduction. The urethral meatus is the opening to the urethra which is part of the urinary system, and, as such will be covered below with the urinary system.

Disorders Affecting the Female Reproductive System

  • Cancer of the breast
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vaginitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cystocele
  • Rectocele

The Parts of the Male Reproductive System

Like the female reproductive system, the male reproductive system consists of both internal and external organs and parts.

The external organs and structures of the male reproductive system are the:

  • Penis
  • Scrotum

The internal organs and structures of the male reproductive system are the:

  • The testes
  • Epididymis
  • Vas deferens
  • Seminal vesicles
  • Prostate gland
  • Ejaculatory ducts
  • Urethra

The Penis

The penis provides sexual satisfaction and gratification to the male and also for the female when vaginal penetration and intercourse are done.

Anatomically, the tip of the penis, referred to as the glans penis, is protected with foreskin, a part of which is surgically removed, shortly after birth or later in life, with a circumcision.

The penis enlarges and becomes erect with sexual excitation because there is a rich supply of blood to the penis. As stated previously, the penis is highly similar to the female gender's clitoris.

The Scrotum

The scrotum lies just behind the penis and its two sections are bilateral to the penis. The scrotal sac holds and protects the testes. This structure responds to changes in environmental temperatures. The scrotum moves upward and downward when it is exposed to cold and warm environmental temperatures, respectively.

The Testes

The testicles, or testes, are the part of the male genitalia that anatomically lie bilaterally to the penis in the scrotum. The testes, as suggested above, is similar to the female gender's ovaries. Both the ovaries and the testes are endocrine glands and gonads, which is defined as a sex and reproduction glandular structure.

Education Chart of Biology for Male Reproductive System Diagram.

Adult human testicle with epididymis: A. Head of epididymis, B. Body of epididymis, C. Tail of epididymis, and D. Vas deferens.

The Epididymis

The epididymis stores, transports and matures the sperm from the testes. The epididymis contracts during orgasm to move matured sperm into the vas deferens and the prostate gland. Simply stated, the epididymis is the connecting tube between the testes and the vas deferens.

The epididymis has three layers which are the head, the body and the tail, as shown in the picture above.

The Vas Deferens

The vas deferens moves the mature sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts and then to the urethra for ejaculation.

The Seminal Vesicles

Prostate with seminal vesicles and seminal ducts, viewed from in front and above.

The seminal vesicles are the pair of glands which attach to the vas deferens near and under the bladder, as shown in the picture above. The seminal vesicles produce a fructose substance that provides the sperm with the energy it needs to locomote and move through the male reproductive tract. This seminal fluid comprises the vast majority of ejaculated fluid.

The Prostate

Prostate

The prostate, an exocrine gland, secretes an alkaline fluid that preserves the life of the sperm when it hits the acidic female vagina. This fluid adds to the volume of semen to a smaller extent than seminal fluid. This gland also propels the sperm forward during ejaculation.

Ejaculatory Ducts

Vesiculæ seminales and ampullæ of ductus deferentes, seen from the front. The anterior walls of the left ampulla, left seminal vesicle, and prostatic urethra have been cut away.

The pair of ejaculatory ducts form the union of the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles. Sperm enters the ejaculatory ducts from the vas deferens.

The Urethra

The urethra is an organ of both the male reproductive system and a gland of the genitourinary or urinary system. The urethra connects the bladder to the external environment for urination and it also moves semen externally through and outside of the penis with orgasm.

The Hormones of the Male Reproductive System

The primary male reproductive hormones are:

  • Follicle stimulating hormone which produces sperm (spermatogenesis)
  • Luteinizing hormone which produces testosterone
  • Testosterone which leads to the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics during puberty

Disorders Affecting the Male Reproductive System

  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Low testosterone
  • Erectile dysfunction

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