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24 September 2014
Human Body & MindScience & Nature

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Fact files

Organs - Female genitals

System: Reproductive

Location: Behind the bladder

Physical description: The uterus, or womb, is the size of an upside-down pear

Function: To produce eggs, have sex, carry a developing baby and to give birth

Eggs, ovaries and sex hormones

The female genitals consist of two glands called ovaries that are responsible for producing eggs and female sex hormones. Once women reach sexual maturity, they experience a hormone regulated monthly fertility cycle known as a menstrual cycle. These hormones control the maturation and release of an egg from one of the ovaries every month, and they affect the lining of the womb making it ready to receive a fertilised egg. Mature eggs are released from the ovary and move along the fallopian tube to the uterus. If an egg is fertilised, it tries to embed itself in the uterus wall, ready to develop into a foetus. If no egg becomes implanted, the uterus lining is shed, and this results in a flow of menstrual blood, know as the 'period'.

When a baby girl is born, she already carries all the eggs that she will ever produce through her life. A boy, however, does not carry sperm at birth, and only begins to produce sperm when he reaches sexual maturity.

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