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What Is the Physiology of the Reproductive System?

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  • Written By: Victoria Blackburn
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Within humans, the physiology of the reproductive system differs between men and women. In both sexes, the physiology of the reproductive system is made up of external and internal genitalia and the gonads, but what and where these organs are differs significantly. The genitals are the organs and the parts of the body that are required so that reproduction can occur. The gonads are the organs that are responsible for producing the reproductive germ cells, or the gametes.

The physiology of the reproductive system within males includes several body parts and organs. The external genitalia is comprised of the penis and scrotum. The internal genitalia is mostly found within these body parts of the male and includes the testes, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, urethra and prostate. The male gametes, or sperm, are produced within the testes, which are the male gonads.

While most of the reproductive organs of males are found within the external genitalia, this is not the case for females. The physiology of the reproductive system for females is found mostly within the lower abdomen. The external genitalia is comprised of the labia and clitoris, which are highly enervated for sexual stimulation. The majority of the organs are internal and include the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Ova, or eggs, are produced within the ovaries of females.

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Not only is the physiology of the reproductive system different between males and females, so is the process whereby the gametes are produced and delivered during reproduction. Spermatogenesis is the process that produces sperm within the seminiferous tubules of the testes, which continues throughout the life of a man. Once the sperm cells have been produced, they mature and are stored within the epididymis in preparation for fertilization. Prior to ejaculation, sperm cells are mixed with seminal fluid from the prostate gland and seminal vesicle to create semen. During ejaculation, the semen leaves the penis via the urethra.

Within females, all egg cells are present from the time of birth and no further ova will be produced throughout the woman’s lifetime. Starting during puberty, the eggs begin to mature within the ovaries, and each month, one mature egg cell is released from one of the ovaries. This alternates between the two of them. It then moves along the fallopian tube to the uterus. If fertilization by a sperm cell does not occur, the egg and the lining of the uterus is expelled through the cervix and vagina during menstruation.

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