Females are born with a large number of potential ova (female sex cells, also called egg cells). However, it isn’t until after the onset of puberty, typically around age 12, that these cells are mature enough to sustain life. The cells ripen on a regular basis, but only one is released each month until a woman reaches menopause. Menopause commonly begins between the ages of 45 and 55.
The major organs of the female reproductive system include:
- Vagina: This muscular tube receives the penis during intercourse and through it a baby leaves the uterus during childbirth.
- Uterus: This organ holds and nourishes a developing fetus, if an egg was properly fertilized.
- Ovaries: The female gonads, the ovaries produce ova. When one matures, it is released down into a fallopian tube.
- Fallopian tubes: These small tubes transport ova from the ovaries to the uterus. This is where an egg waits to be fertilized.