The Reproductive System
Anatomy of the Female
Te reproductive role of the female is far more complex than
that of a male. Not only must she produce gametes, but her body
must prepare to nurture a developing fetus for approximately nine
, are the primary reproduc-
tive organs of a female, and like the male testes, ovaries serve a
dual purpose: Tey produce the female gametes (ova) and sex
, but estradiol is the most
abundant and is most responsible for estrogenic eﬀects in humans.
As illustrated in
, a female’s
her ovaries and duct system—are mostly located in the pelvic cav-
ity. Te female’s accessory ducts, from the vicinity of the ovary to
the body exterior, are the
, and the
Tey transport or otherwise serve the needs of the reproductive
cells and a developing fetus. Te external sex organs of females are
referred to as
Describe the location, structure, and function of the
Te paired ovaries ﬂank the uterus on each side (Figure 27.12).
Shaped like an almond and about twice as large, each ovary is
grow and increase in density, and skeletal muscles increase in
size and mass. Te last two eﬀects are o±en referred to as the
of testosterone (
body). ²estosterone also
boosts basal metabolic rate and inﬂuences behavior. It is the
basis of the male libido, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
As noted later (p. 1053), the adrenal androgen DHEA appears
to be more important than testosterone in creating or driving
In embryos, testosterone masculinizes the brain. ²estoster-
one also appears to continue to shape certain regions of the
male brain well into adult life, as indicated by the diﬀerences in
males’ and females’ brain areas involved in sexual arousal (for
example, the amygdala).
Te testes are not the only source of androgens. Te adrenal
glands of both sexes also release them. However, the relatively
small amounts of adrenal androgens are insuﬃcient to support
normal testosterone-mediated functions, so we can assume that
it is the testosterone production by the testes that supports male
Check Your Understanding
What is the HPG axis?
How does FSH indirectly stimulate spermatogenesis?
What are three secondary sex characteristics promoted by
For answers, see Appendix H.
Internal organs of the female reproductive system, midsagittal section.
(For a related image, see
A Brief Atlas of the Human Body
, Figure 74.)