Sexual reproduction is the process of producing offspring for the survival of the species, and passing on hereditary traits from one generation to the next. The male and female reproductive systems contribute to the events leading to fertilization. The male and female gonads (testes and ovaries) produce sex cells (ova and sperm) and the hormones necessary for the proper development, maintenance, and functioning of the reproductive organs, and other organs and tissues.
The organs of the male reproductive system are specialized for the following functions: to produce, maintain and transport sperm (the male reproductive cells) and protective fluid (semen); to discharge sperm within the female reproductive tract; to produce and secrete male sex hormones. Most of the male reproductive system is located outside of the man’s body. The external structures of the male reproductive system are the penis, the scrotum and the testicles.
The internal organs of the male reproductive system, also called accessory organs, include the following: vas deferens, ejaculatory ducts, urethra, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, bulbourethral glands. The entire male reproductive system is dependent on hormones, which are chemicals that stimulate or regulate the activity of cells or organs. The primary hormones involved in the functioning of the male reproductive system are follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and testosterone.
Unlike the male, the human female has a reproductive system located entirely in the pelvis. The external part of the female reproductive organs is called the vulva, which means covering. Located between the legs, the vulva covers the opening to the vagina and other reproductive organs located inside the body. Two pairs of skin flaps called the labia surround the vaginal opening. The clitoris, a small sensory organ, is located toward the front of the vulva where the folds of the labia join. Between the labia are openings to the urethra and vagina. A female’s internal reproductive organs are the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
The vagina is a muscular, hollow tube that extends from the vaginal opening to the uterus. Because it has muscular walls it can expand and contract. This ability to become wider or narrower allows the vagina to accommodate something as slim as a tampon and as wide as a baby. The vaginal muscular walls are lined with mucous membranes, which keep it protected and moist. The vagina has several functions: for sexual intercourse, as the pathway that a baby takes out of a woman’s body during childbirth, and as the route for the menstrual blood (the period) to leave the body from the uterus. The vagina connects with the uterus, or womb, at the cervix. The cervix has strong, thick walls. During childbirth, the cervix can expand to allow a baby to pass.
The uterus is shaped like an upside-down pear, with a thick lining and muscular walls – in fact, the uterus contains some of the strongest muscles in the female body. At the upper corners of the uterus, the fallopian tubes connect the uterus to the ovaries. The ovaries are two oval-shaped organs that lie to the upper right and left of the uterus. They produce, store, and release eggs into the fallopian tubes in the process called ovulation.
There are two fallopian tubes, each attached to a side of the uterus. Within each tube is a tiny passageway no wider than a sewing needle. At the other end of each fallopian tube is a fringed area that looks like a funnel.
The ovaries are also part of the endocrine system because they produce female sex hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone.
The female reproductive system enables a woman to: produce eggs (ova); have sexual intercourse; protect and nourish the fertilized egg until it is fully developed; give birth.
Sexual reproduction couldn’t happen without the sexual organs called the gonads. Although most people think of the gonads as the male testicles, both sexes actually have gonads; in females the gonads are the ovaries. The female gonads produce female gametes (eggs); the male gonads produce male gametes (sperm). After an egg is fertilized by the sperm, the fertilized egg is called the zygote.
I. Arrange the following words in pairs of synonyms.
II. Translate and memorize the following words and phrases.
The bulbourethral glands; to neutralize any acidity; the seminal vesicles; the development of male characteristics; to transport mature sperm to the urethra in preparation for ejaculation; to be responsible for producing the sperm cells; the ejaculatory ducts; a number of sensitive nerve endings; the amniotic sac; the female’s ovulation; to produce female sex hormones; to be stimulated by the pituitary hormone oxytocin; to allow a baby to pass; to protect and nourish the fertilized egg; the vaginal opening; produce female gametes (eggs); to fertilize the egg; a tiny passageway; to be located toward the front of the vulva; the umbilical cord.
III. Find the antonyms on the right to the words in italics.