Histology Guide

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Chapter 18 - Female Reproductive System

The organs of the female reproductive system are the ovaries, oviducts, uterus, vagina, placenta, and mammary glands. They work together for the production of female gametes (oocytes), fertilization, support of the developing fetus, delivering it to the outside world, and nutrition of the newborn.

Ovary

The ovaries are responsible for the production of an oocyte (oogenesis) and secretion of female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone). When it releases a mature ovum, it travels down the oviduct to the uterus.

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(H&E)
(mature or Graafian follicle)
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(H&E)
(corpus hemorrhagicum)
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(H&E)
(corpus luteum)
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(H&E)
(corpus luteum)

Oviduct

The oviducts (uterine tubes; fallopian tubes) are fibromuscular tubes that transport an ovulated ovum from the ovary to the uterus. Fertilization usually takes place in the oviduct.

Uterus

The uterus is the muscular organ that nourishes and supports the growing embryo.

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(cycling)
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(H&E)
(menopausal)

Uterine (menstrual) Cycle

The uterine cycle is divided into three phases based on changes in the inner surface of the uterus (endometrium):

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(H&E)
(proliferative [follicular] phase)
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(H&E)
(early secretory [luteal] phase)
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(H&E)
(mid secretory [luteal] phase)
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(H&E)
(late secretory [luteal] phase)
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(H&E)
(menstrual phase)

Cervix

The cervix is the lower end of the uterus that opens into the vagina. During menstruation, it allows the passage of menstrual fluid from the uterus. In childbirth, it widens (dilates) to allow passage of the baby from the uterus to the outside world.

Vagina

The vagina is a fibromuscular tube that connects the uterus to the opening of the external genitalia.

Placenta

The placenta develops during pregnancy to support the developing fetus by producing hormones, transferring nutrients and waste products between the mother and the fetus.

Mammary Gland

Mammary glands are responsible for the production of milk (lactation) for nutrition of a newborn.

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(H&E)
(lactating)
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(H&E)
(resting and lactating)
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(H&E)
(lactating)