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Understanding Female Reproduction

The egg also known as an oocyte, ovum or gamete. The egg is one of the largest cells in the woman’s body about the size of a grain of sand and about 16 times larger than a single sperm.
A female is born with a finite number of eggs, generally around 1 to 2 million which are produced in utero.

That means by the time a woman reaches menopause a few hundred eggs or less remains. That is why age is the biggest factor that affects egg supply. The female reproductive organs are the Vagina, Uterus, Fallopian Tubes and the Ovaries.

  • The bulging upper section called the body
  • The narrow lower section called the neck or cervix

The uterus has a thick lining and muscular walls; in fact the uterus contains some of the strongest muscles in the female body.

The vagina is a muscular, hollow tube that extends from the vaginal opening to the uterus. The vagina serves as the lower part of the birth canal and receives sperm from the male.

The Female Reproductive System

Female Fertility Explained

Each month blood and tissue build up and line the inside of the uterus.If a woman’s egg is fertilized by the man’s sperm, the fertilized egg then attaches itself to the lining and the body will begin to develop.If the egg does not become fertilized by the sperm, the lining is shed during the menstrual period.

At the upper corners of the uterus are the fallopian tubes. These two tubes are approximately 10 cm long and connect the uterus to the ovaries. Within each tube is a tiny passageway no wider than a sewing needle.

During each menstrual cycle an egg is released from one of the ovaries and it begins its journey down one of the fallopian tubes en route to the uterus.

The egg remains in the fallopian tubes for a few days.

Fertilization normally takes place in the fallopian tube. If fertilization occurs, the embryo is held in the fallopian tube until it has developed into a small cell mass (blastocyst). Then tiny hair like structures in the tube lining called cilia help push it down the passageway towards the uterus.

The ovaries are two almond shaped structures located on either side of the uterus (womb).

The ovaries produce, store and release eggs as well as produce and release oestrogen and progesterone. Beneath the surface of the ovaries are thousands of microscopic structures called ovarian follicles. The follicles contain the eggs.

Oestrogen – encourages the eggs to mature and help prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy by maturing the lining.


Day 1 to 28

Ovulation is the development and release of an egg from a woman’s ovaries. A typical cycle takes approximately 28 to 32 days and is divided into three phases:

The fastest growing follicle ruptures and only one egg is released from the ovary into a fallopian tube. During ovulation, the fallopian tube receives the mature egg, which is released from the ovary.

The ovum remains in the fallopian tube for a few days. Fertilization normally takes place in the fallopian tube.

On the first day of the cycle when your period begins, the uterus sheds its inner lining (called the endometrium) from the previous cycle.

The endometrium provides a suitable environment for embryo implantation and development during pregnancy. The Pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, releases two hormones:

• Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
• Luteinising hormone (LH)

Under the influence of FSH and LH, one of your ovaries selects between 10 and 20 eggs to become possible candidates for release. The chosen eggs begin to mature in the ovary within their own sacs, called follicles.

If the egg meets the sperm in the fallopian tube, conception may occur. The fertilized egg is swept through the tube toward the uterus where the embryo – as it is now called – will implant into the lining about six days after ovulation.

It begins to produce a hormone call human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which tells the body it is pregnant. hCG can be detected in urine or blood around the time of a ‘missed’ period.

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Statistics reference: WHO • 2018 -2019


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