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This chapter should help the student to:

  • Name the internal organs and external genitalia of the female reproductive system and give the structure, function, and location of each.

  • Trace female gamete (ovum) development from embryonic origin through ovulation and implantation.

  • Describe the structural changes and the roles of FSH and LH at each step of follicle maturation.

  • Name the cells that produce estrogen and progesterone. Describe the conditions under which these hormones are produced and explain their effects on pituitary FSH and LH production.

  • Identify, in a micrograph of an ovary, each follicle’s stage of development, and the follicles’ component cells and structures.

  • Describe the endometrium in terms of location, structure, blood supply, and changes accompanying the menstrual cycle phases; correlate the endometrial changes with events in the ovary and with changing pituitary and ovarian hormone levels.

  • Identify, in a micrograph, the uterine wall and its layers and components, and the uterine cervix and its characteristic structural features.

  • Describe the changes in the structure and location of the conceptus between fertilization and implantation. How much time typically elapses between these events?

  • Describe implantation in terms of the structural changes in the blastocyst and endometrium.

  • Describe the placenta in terms of fetal and maternal contributions, the steps in chorionic villus development, and the layers of the placental barrier.

  • Identify, in a micrograph of an implanted blastocyst or embryo, the components of the developing embryo and placenta.

  • Describe the vaginal wall in terms of its layers, response to estrogen, and innervation. Distinguish the vagina from the esophagus in micrographs.

  • Describe the vulva in terms of the structure and innervation of its components.

  • Describe, and identify in a micrograph, the histologic structure of the mammary gland and its components in the prepubertal, resting adult, pregnant, and lactating states.

  • Describe the synthesis and secretion of milk and name the hormones responsible for breast growth, activation and maintenance of lactation, and milk ejection.


  1. Diagram and label the organs of the female reproductive system (I.A1; Fig. 23–1, A).

  2. Sketch a cross-section of an ovary (Fig. 23–1, A and B) and label the germinal epithelium, tunica albuginea, cortex, medulla, and ovarian follicles.

  3. Name in order the stages—from primordial to mature (graafian)—of follicle development (II.B.1–3).

  4. Distinguish between primordial and unilaminar primary follicles (II.B.1 and 2.a).

  5. Distinguish between unilaminar and multilaminar primary follicles (II.B.2.a).

  6. Distinguish between primary and secondary follicles (II.B.2.a and b).

  7. Sketch a mature (graafian) follicle (Fig. 23–2) and label the following (II.B.2.a, b and 3):

    1. Theca externa

    2. Theca interna

    3. Antrum

    4. Liquor folliculi

    5. Follicle (granulosa) cells

    6. Oocyte

    7. Cumulus oophorus

    8. Corona radiata

  8. Explain the following aspects of ovulation (II.D):

    1. Assuming menses begin on day 1 of an idealized 28-day cycle, when does ovulation occur?

    2. Name the pituitary hormone whose production surges just before ovulation

    3. Name the components of the mature follicle (II.B.1–3) carried with the ovum and those left behind after ovulation

  9. Sketch a ...

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