22.2: Introduction to the reproductive system (2023)

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    It's all about sex

    A tiny sperm breaks through the surface of a giant egg. voila! A new baby will be born in nine months. Like most other multicellular organisms, humans reproduce sexually. In human sexual reproduction, individuals with testicles produce sperm and individuals with ovaries produce eggs, and new offspring are formed when a sperm fuses with an egg. How are sperm and egg cells formed? And how do they come together at the right place and time to unite and form a new offspring? These are functions of the reproductive system.

    22.2: Introduction to the reproductive system (2)

    What is the reproductive system?

    Isreproductive systemIt is the human organ system that is responsible for the production and fertilization of gametes (sperm or eggs) and the pregnancy of a fetus. both both sexesgondolasproduce gametes. TOGametesIt is a haploid cell that fuses with another haploid gamete during fertilization, forming a single diploid cell called a zygote. In addition to producing gametes, the gonads also produce sex hormones.sex hormonesThey are endocrine hormones that control sex organ development before birth, sexual maturity at puberty, and reproduction after puberty. Other organs of the reproductive system have different functions, such as B. Gamete maturation, delivery of gametes to the site of fertilization and providing an environment for development and growth of offspring.

    Gender differences in the reproductive system

    The reproductive system is the only human organ system that differs significantly between males and females. The embryonic structures that develop into the reproductive system start out the same in males and females, but by birth the reproductive systems have differentiated. How did this happen?

    sexual differentiation

    Around the seventh week after conception in genetically male (XY) embryos, a gene called SRY on the Y chromosome (Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\)) initiates the production of several proteins. These proteins cause undifferentiated gonadal tissue to develop into testicles. The testicles secrete hormones, including testosterone, that trigger other changes in the developing offspring (now called the fetus), causing them to develop a full male reproductive system. Without a Y chromosome, an embryo develops ovaries that produce estrogen. Estrogen, in turn, leads to the formation of other organs of the female reproductive system.

    22.2: Introduction to the reproductive system (3)

    Homologous Structure

    Undifferentiated embryonic tissue develops into different structures in male and female fetuses. Structures that arise from the same tissues in males and females are referred to asHomologous Structure. The testes and ovaries, for example, are homologous structures that develop from the undifferentiated gonads of the embryo. Likewise, the penis and clitoris are homologous structures that develop from the same embryonic tissue.

    Sex hormones and maturation

    The male and female reproductive systems are different at birth but are immature and unable to produce gametes or sex hormones. Maturation of the reproductive system occurs during puberty, when hormones from the hypothalamus and pituitary stimulate the testicles or ovaries to start producing sex hormones again. The main sex hormones areTestosteronejEstrogen. The sex hormones, in turn, lead to the growth and maturation of the reproductive organs, the rapid growth of the body and the development ofsecondary sex characteristicssuch as body and facial hair and breasts.

    (Video) Chp 22 reproductive systems

    Role of sex hormones in transgender treatment

    Feminizing or masculinizing hormone therapy is the administration of exogenous endocrine disruptors to induce changes in physical appearance. Because hormone therapy is inexpensive and highly effective in developing secondary sex characteristics compared to surgery (e.g., hormone therapy is often the first, and sometimes the only, gender-affirming medical intervention accessed by transgender individuals attempting to develop male or female characteristics who are compatible with their gender identity In some cases, hormone therapy may be required before surgical procedures can be performed Trans women are prescribed estrogen and anti-testosterone drugs such as cyproterone acetate and spironolactone Trans men are prescribed testosterone

    (Video) Chapter 22.2 Reproductive System-male structures, sexual function

    male reproductive system

    The main structures of the male reproductive system are located outside the body and are shown in figure \(\PageIndex{3}\). The two testicles (singular, testicles) hang between the thighs in a skin sac called the scrotum. The testicles produce sperm and testosterone. On top of each testicle rests a convoluted structure called the epididymis (plural, epididymis). The function of the epididymis is to mature and store sperm. The penis is a tubular organ that contains the urethra and has the ability to harden during sexual arousal. During sexual climax (orgasm) the semen leaves the body through the urethra. This release of sperm is called ejaculation.

    In addition to these organs, there are various ducts and glands inside the body. The ducts, which include the vas deferens (also called the vas deferens), transport sperm from the epididymis to the urethra. The glands, which include the prostate and seminal vesicles, produce fluids that become part of semen. Sperm is the fluid that transports sperm through the urethra and out of the body. It contains substances that regulate pH and provide sperm with nutrients for energy.

    22.2: Introduction to the reproductive system (4)

    female reproductive system

    22.2: Introduction to the reproductive system (5)

    The main structures of the female reproductive system are located inside the body and are shown in figure \(\PageIndex{4}\). These include the paired ovaries, small oval-shaped structures that produce eggs and secrete estrogen. The two fallopian tubes (also called fallopian tubes) begin near the ovaries and end in the uterus. Its function is to transport the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. When an egg is fertilized, it usually happens while it's traveling down a fallopian tube. The uterus is a pear-shaped muscular organ that supports the fetus until birth. It can expand greatly to accommodate a growing fetus, and its muscular walls can contract greatly during labor to push the baby into the vagina. The vagina is a tubular tract that connects the uterus to the outside of the body. Sperm is normally deposited in the vagina during intercourse and ejaculation. The vagina is also known as the birth canal because during birth the baby travels through the vagina to exit the body.

    (Video) Lecture 22.2 Repro: GO NADS!

    The external structures of the female reproductive system are collectively referred to as the vulva. This includes the clitoris, which is homologous to the male penis. It also includes two pairs of labia (singular, labium) that surround and protect the openings of the urethra and vagina.


    1. What is the reproductive system?
    2. Define gonad.
    3. What are sex hormones? What are its general functions?
    4. Distinguish between male and female sex hormones.
    5. How is the differentiation of the reproductive system in males and females?
    6. What are homologous structures in the context of the human male and female reproductive system?
    7. When and how does the human reproductive system mature?
    8. Name the organs of the male reproductive system.
    9. Name the organs of the female reproductive system.
    10. What are the female gametes called? What are the male gametes called?
    11. Right or wrong:The vagina is the homologous structure to the penis.
    12. right or wrong:In the absence of a Y chromosome in humans, ovaries develop.
    13. What are the secondary sex characteristics?
      1. fallopian tubes
      2. ovaries
      3. alt
      4. all previous ones
    14. In which of these structures does fertilization normally take place?
      1. ovary
      2. fallopian tubes
      3. uterus
      4. Vagina
    15. Explain the difference between the vulva and the vagina.

    explore more


    People's sense of gender identity doesn't always align with their anatomy. Some people don't identify as male or female, but as non-binary or gendered. Others may identify as having a gender opposite to that normally associated with their chromosomes or reproductive organs. These people are referred to as transgender and can choose to transition to the opposite gender, a process that may or may not involve physical changes. Watch the video below to learn more about using hormones in sex reassignment surgery.

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    Gender determination can be more complicated than originally thought. Watch this video to learn more:


    1. Sperm-No; public domain through Wikimedia Commons
    2. human Y chromosomevom National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); public domain through Wikimedia Commons
    3. male reproductive systemby Charles Molnar and Jane Gair;CC POR 4.0vonBiology Concepts- 1st Canadian edition
    4. female reproductive systemvonBlausen.com staff (2014). "Blausen Medical Medical Gallery 2014".WikiRevista de Medicina 1(2).DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010.ISSN 2002-4436. with licenseCC POR 3.0About Wikimedia Commons
    5. Text adapted fromhuman biologyvonCK-12with licenseCC-BY-NC 3.0
    6. Part of the text is adapted from White Hughto JM, Reisner SL..A systematic review of the effects of hormone therapy on mental function and quality of life in transgender individuals.. Transgender Health. 2016;1(1):21-31CC POR 4.0


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